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Incalescence

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Jungkook only had room for two thoughts on the morning of a mid-September move-in day. 

 

One: it was way too warm, and two: it was far too early. 

 

Those fierce complaints pulsed incessantly in his head like the beat of a drum, the rhythm hidden from the world beneath a tangled mess of parted, dark hair. The humidity did little to help Jungkook’s mood and the persistent moisture making its way to the surface of his ever-cool skin was not a welcome feeling, especially with the few strands of hair sticking to his forehead. Pondering why this September day had to be so unseasonably warm, he begrudgingly hefted yet another box up the last few stairs into his dorm hallway.

 

The Winterborne had even abandoned his stylish navy jersey jacket and tossed it onto his unmade bed during his second trip, sacrificing it for a chance to catch the mild breeze and revealing his blue and white striped t-shirt underneath. Jungkook tried not to think that maybe his favorite pair of ripped black jeans were not the most practical for temperatures comparable to the relentless heat of mid-summer, but he would absolutely not wear shorts - he was a man of taste, okay?

 

He shook his head to release the heat trapped beneath the deepest layers of his hair and felt his small, silver hooped earrings wiggle where they dangled from his ears. His cool-attuned body would chill him out efficiently anyway, once he completed his arduous move-in.

 

Jungkook’s dorm room, if one could even call it that due to its enormous size, was the first of a few rooms on his left, present behind aged doors in the long stone hallway. Windows dotted the right side of the hall periodically, casting warm rays onto the aged floors, a dark red carpet lining the length in its entirety. The space seemed to hold a rich history, but to Jungkook’s surprise, no dust or cobwebs were to be found. The preservation and care poured into the environment were evident, even up to the tall, shadowed corners. 

 

Money will do that, thought Jungkook, peering over his box and looking through the window glass at the hedges cut with laser precision. At least they’re not getting any of mine. He held back a sigh. 

 

Although part of him was admittedly bitter at the sheer absurdity of the cost for attending Aethera University, Jungkook was fortunate to be attending on a full scholarship, graciously covering both his academics and his housing accomodation. Though in context, the word ‘fortunate’ usually left his mouth dripping with sarcasm and accompanied by an eyeroll, since he had worked himself to the bone during his undergraduate career to obtain the full ride to Aethera.

 

Sleepless nights working on design projects and weekends doing side photography work for cash were memories Jungkook was most certainly not fond of. His undergraduate campus was quite run down, and his previous dorm was often too warm or stuffy for a Winterborne. 

 

He frowned as he was reminded that there wasn’t much effort in society to assimilate pure Winters like himself. Even though Winterborne were the least common of the four seasons found in individuals, it would have been nice for his old campus to at least attempt to accommodate the cooler temperatures his season craved. 

 

The average Winterborne could wear shorts in the snow without flinching and freeze a teaspoon of liquid at best, maybe even cool off a cup of water on a good day. But with such an uncommonly pure connection to his season, Jungkook’s traits had grown to include manipulation over cold to a frighteningly accurate degree. He had no issues freezing liquids or even solids, more recently materializing ice using the air’s moisture. It had taken years for him to control dropping his immediate temperature as to not disturb others… as well as to control other less than desirable traits. 

 

Before their passing, his parents had drilled it into his mind to not reveal his icy tendencies to anyone in fear that he would be posed as a danger, and Jungkook intended to keep it a very well-kept secret. Historically, pure seasons were sought after and utilized for their talents by often predatory organizations or even government officials. Horror stories often cropped up from time to time, and Jungkook sure as hell did not intend to ever be a weapon or lab experiment.

 

There may have only been a handful of Winterborne and Springborne for every thousand Summerborne and Autumnborne, and even fewer with pure seasons, but Jungkook firmly believed they deserved to be treated equally all the same. Although to their benefit, even the purest of Springborne seemed to get along just fine with the preferences of Autumn and Summer, most unlike pure Winters.

 

An environment with no thermostat and a consistently mild climate wasn’t an ideal learning experience for Jungkook during his prior academics, and he had often found himself daydreaming of deep winters with heavy blizzards. He quickly became acquainted with many a cold shower and spent countless evenings thanking any deity he could imagine for the creation of iced coffee. Despite his irritation with some lackluster professors and bogus assignments here and there, he managed to succeed, graduating with high marks and honors in his concentration, graphic design. 

 

Still, Jungkook was fortunate during the time spent in his undergrad to have a single room with no roommate. He functioned in a very ‘particular’ way, as Jin had often referred to it, which was a nice way to describe his admittedly insufferable needs as a pure Winter, and as… well, himself. Sharing his living space was not something he planned to do, if he could help it. 

 

The solitude to get his artwork done in peace was always appreciated, as well as the ability to play music through his speakers without fear of judgement by stray listeners. He was even grateful for the option to stay up playing computer games into the early hours without worrying about keeping anyone awake with his loud mechanical keyboard. No one disturbed his sleep that occasionally extended well into the afternoon hours following some of his longest nights pouring over his thesis. 

 

Not to mention, he had no fear of keeping the room temperature as low as possible. Privacy meant the freedom to unleash the cold swirling within him, a necessary evil that came with his high dosage of power. Releasing the firm hold on his abilities was like shedding a second skin.

 

Needless to say, Jungkook was more than thrilled when he discovered he would be the only resident in his graduate dorm room on his new campus, logging into the housing form online and seeing the shared resident section empty. He had feared it would be filled at the last second, but Jungkook checked as recently as that very morning, and the roommate assignment space had still been left blessedly blank. 

 

With the new, beautiful surroundings, varied seasonal climate, including typically intense winters, and plenty of new material to learn, he was surprisingly optimistic towards his future experience as a student at Aethera. Maybe even a little hopeful, if he allowed himself to go that far, though his painfully practical nature usually cautioned against having too much faith in things going as planned. 

 

Eyes flicking to the number engraved onto a silver plate to the right of his doorway, Jungkook reassured himself that he was at the correct room number: 224. Yes, he may have made the trip back and forth to his faithful black sedan five times now, including climbing five flights of stairs to the fifth floor, but Jungkook was not about to be ‘that guy’ who walks into someone else’s room. 

 

He nudged the weighty door with the toe of his tightly-laced black boots, cracking it open before shouldering his way in, wide box still heavy in his hands.

 

The dorm itself was really large enough to be two rooms, split by a singular wall in the center. Jungkook had nearly walked straight into the parting wall on his first trip into the room, boxes stacked so high in his arms that they blocked his field of vision. There was a narrow entryway after entering the door, a small mirror closet nestled in the left of the alcove. 

 

The split areas to the right and left of the division were enormously large, at least according to Jungkook’s standards. His undergraduate room was what he had considered a glorified closet, but these rooms were easily the size of Namjoon’s small living room and dining room combined. Although he knew some of the more wealthy students would probably shrug at the size, Jungkook was grateful for the opportunity to live in such a generous space.

 

At first glance, both sides of the room seemed to be equally divided in both footage, furniture and view, both painted a blinding white. A wall of windows lined the back of both bedrooms from top to bottom, and Jungkook had to admit that the fifth floor scenery of the rolling hillside was breathtaking, despite the cursed heat lingering beyond the panes. The dividing wall was several feet ahead, cleaving the space up to the ceiling. 

 

A moment of pressure had rested on Jungkook’s shoulders the first time he had entered the room, knowing he had to decide which space he would primarily reside in, but his intuition told him to take the left side. 

 

Besides, I could take over both spaces eventually, with no roommate and all, he thought with a tinge of smug satisfaction. 

 

He had cringed in discomfort at the lack of privacy between his side of the open room and the doorway, but he quickly realized there was a hefty curtain rod spanning from the furthest left wall to divider wall. On the rod was a thick curtain hung from silver rings that he assumed would hide the whole side when drawn. 

 

Jungkook stepped from the entryway, bypassing his room already towering with boxes and continuing through a doorway into a separate, small kitchen area. It wasn’t anything special, a small table with chairs and a coffee maker on the shining counters, but it provided the amenities needed, especially a microwave. Ovens were nice and all, but Jungkook knew he and the microwave would get to know each other pretty quickly over many cups of cheap ramen. 

 

He dropped the cardboard box unceremoniously onto the kitchen floor, the plates it held clanging angrily within. Jungkook groaned as he rolled his neck, toned muscles now tense from the heavy lifting. Even though his boxes were basically screaming at him to be unpacked, he knew he needed a short breather after the heat that had endured all morning. 

 

Opposite of the kitchen was another doorway, which Jungkook assumed was his bathroom. He passed his room and the empty one, flicking on the lights and illuminating the area. A grand mirror over a single sink surrounded by plenty of counter space greeted him to his left. The room included a large tub with detachable shower head, as well as a toilet on his right. Shiny, pearl-white tiles sparkled beneath the soles of his boots, the stark scent of bleach tickling his nose. 

 

Unlike the kitchen, this room had no window, but Jungkook wasn’t complaining. A private bathroom was already a miraculous improvement from his previous dorm, where he shared a community bathroom with his entire floor. There he had accidentally cooled down the showers of other residents in the vicinity more times than he’d like to admit - to the point where his floormates had attempted to service the water heater multiple times with mysteriously no improvement. He had even frozen a guy’s water midstream during one particularly stressful finals week... that one had been hard to play off.

 

Okay, maybe Jungkook would let himself be a little giddy with his new private arrangements.

 

With puffed cheeks, he exhaled a frosty breath from his lower lip, angled upwards to blow his damp fringe away from his eyes. His face was admittedly gross, if he really had to describe it, but Jungkook didn’t technically sweat. The droplets cascading down his skin were pure water, cold to the touch. Still, he looked and felt like he had just emerged from the local swamp.

 

He turned the sink handle to the side denoted with a small blue dot and cupped his hands to fill them with icy water. In an instant, the small pool of water became a handful of ice chips. He greedily lifted them to his face, the biting sensation far cooler than any water the tap could have produced as he absorbed his fill of the cold. Unmelting in Jungkook’s hold, they clattered into the sink as he dropped them one by one.

 

The new environment brought a freedom that seemed to dangle dangerously in front of him. Mixed emotions filled him as he thought of the privacy of his surroundings, as well as the fear of failure. Knowing the odds were already biologically stacked against him as a pure Winter with a secret to hide was nothing new, but it certainly didn’t bring him much comfort. 

 

Jungkook gripped onto the sink counter, leaning over to the mirror to look into his vivid blue eyes, pupils dark. His gaze raked over his sharp jawline as a stray water droplet rolled carelessly down his neck that froze with his exhale. 

 

He had been right to think his abilities would be stronger here, away from the city and the destruction metropolitan expansion had wrought upon nature. The thought of being exposed to a deeper connection to his season, especially in an area known for its winter weather, both terrified and thrilled Jungkook. Nerves danced in his gut as he thought of interacting with his new classmates.

 

You can do this, he thought firmly, hands gradually clinging tighter to the porcelain. This will be a great year and you worked hard to get here. Nothing is going to ruin this for you.

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince, but either way, he hoped with a silent wish that he was correct.

 

~

 

There was always a profound beauty in the stonework of gothic architecture, the same style that adorned each and every building Jungkook laid eyes on as he strolled through campus. Flowers grew eagerly from their mulched beds in a wide array of colors, curling their stems against the wrought iron benches that lined the walkway. An oversized fountain bubbled in the central courtyard, birds eagerly drenching their wings as they hopped through the waterfalls. 

 

His original tour of the grounds a few weeks prior had solidified Jungkook’s decision of which graduate school to attend, and the orientation tour he was currently on was reassuring him that he had chosen correctly. Fortunately, unpacking most of his essentials had been completed earlier, so he had time to get to know the campus layout better, leading him to the group he now travelled with. 

 

A grand structure stood before him, towers of glimmering grey spiraling high into the sky. His all too eager tour guide had told Jungkook’s group that what was now the student center had once been an actual castle manor, though the interior was rather gutted during renovation to support modern facilities. To accommodate the larger student body, some newer buildings were erected in later years, though still mimicking the elegance and aged feel each facility possesed. 

 

The whole place screamed money. Boat shoes, polo shirts paired with cargo shorts and BMWs were so common that Jungkook wasn’t sure how his ripped jeans and boots fit in. Half this campus is going to think I’m an edgelord, he thought with a grimace. He prayed the evidently rich aura at least signified the presence of accommodations he lacked during his prior schooling. 

 

Jungkook quietly raised a hand to ask the tour guide, a young, red haired Summerborne who appeared to be an instructor in his mid twenties, if climate control existed in both the original and newer buildings. His name tag gleamed as if powered by sunlight, the name “Jung Hoseok” emblazoned for all to see.

 

“Absolutely! All of our facilities, both new and old, are outfitted with the most energy efficient and customizable heating and cooling units! Perfect for those of us who are a little picky.” The Summerborne gazed knowingly at Jungkook’s Winterborne-blue eyes, shooting him the most blinding and toothy smile he had ever seen.

 

“And we assure you that we take seasons into account for roommate pairing as well,” Hoseok finished, sending him a quick wink.  

 

Jungkook flushed immediately, eyes snapping to the nearest tree as he felt a few curious heads turn in his direction. Winterborne were not only rare, but were infamously known to have seasonal incompatibilities specifically with Springborne, often causing some miffs during campus housing. Not only did the two seasons tend to compete for the surrounding temperature, but their touch was often uncomfortable to the other. 

 

Jungkook’s ties to his uncommon season were so unusually strong that he had found his interactions with Springborne to be uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worst. Since no one truly understood how harmful Jungkook could be to Springborne due to his hidden abilities, he did them a favor and attempted to avoid them at all costs.

 

As if fate found it ample reinforcement, all of his interactions with the few Springborne he had encountered were consistently negative, mostly thanks to personality clashes. Springborne were too eager, too loud or too bright. They always seemed to lack appreciation for solitude, steamrolling Jungkook’s calm demeanor and often disapproving of his valuable quiet time. Not to mention that their touch felt like knives to his cool skin thanks to the strong bout of Winter running through his veins.

 

Yeah, Jungkook was not a fan of Springborne. 

 

He was never sure why Winterborne and Springborne were the only ‘enemies’ out of each season, but he felt bitter towards the inconvenience all the same. He recalled his Winterborne grandmother once holding him close, telling him that Winterborne naturally shy away from Springborne because winter fears melting away into nothingness. 

 

Spring signals the end of winter, his grandmother had told him, her wise, azure eyes sparkling as she cuddled a young Jungkook on her lap. Winter prevents the arrival of spring. Both are aggressive in their desires, whether to blanket nature in a cold embrace, or revive nature with a warm caress. Naturally, they will always be at odds, but their cycle of death and rebirth are vital to all life.

 

A chorus of laughter from the group forced Jungkook out of his reminiscence. He watched as Hoseok whipped around, small Summerborne-typical sparks flying in his vicinity as he explained the cafeteria plan in far greater detail than necessary. A trail of low giggles still sounded from a few students while they watched him animate what must have been what it was like to eat the best hamburger on earth. 

 

Jungkook sighed, rubbing circles into his temples. Call him cynical, but he doubted whatever Hoseok had said was that funny.

 

As the tour continued on, Jungkook slowly lagged behind. Satisfaction began to bloom in his stomach as he considered the possibility of a comfortable living situation. He quickly found himself daydreaming of future classes, study sessions and even some nighttime walks, his feet moving along with the group robotically. Being hopeful could be dangerous, but even his practical side agreed his circumstances were better than he could have imagined. 

 

“These are your dorms, as most of you already know,” tour guide Hoseok introduced with vigor when they arrived at the residential side of campus. Jungkook stood on his toes over the crowd, observing six large buildings in total. Each dorm was connected by a bridge, stone archways creating tunnels below. 

 

“Inside these buildings are identical sets of split rooms, each including their own kitchen and bathroom. At Aethera, we encourage you to ‘go nuts’ with your dorm room, unlike some of the bland rules found at other universities,” Hoseok explained, shooting what was apparently his trademark smile at a nearby female student. Jungkook rolled his eyes when she uttered a small giggle. 

 

“We even can consider it towards your class total as an Interior Design or Painting credit if administrators deem it worthy. Most students customize their rooms to fit their season’s tastes. Paint them, light them, build new furniture for them, use them as blank canvases. Just keep it legal, and try not to light anything on fire.” The red-haired Summerborne laughed, wiggling his eyebrows. The corners of Jungkook’s mouth twitched; he didn’t doubt Hoseok participated in said activities himself while he was still a student. 

 

Excitement buzzed beneath the surface of his skin. The thought of proper AC in his dorm had made Jungkook’s mental wheels spin out of control, but his universe felt tilted on its axis at hearing he had the freedom to even paint his dorm room. 

 

Jungkook was no stranger to using sticky hooks instead of nails for dorm walls, their chipped, white paint marred with the scuffs and shadows of past residents. He had always tried to arrange his space to reflect his personality, but the strict limits on customization tended to mean a lot of tacky band posters and not a lot of room for anything unique. Jungkook pouted just a little as he recalled his previous dorm advisor even confiscating his string lights. 

 

He had considered living off-campus during his graduate studies just to have an apartment to adjust to his liking, but the enticing price of zero dollars had quickly convinced Jungkook to live in the dorms on his scholarship.

 

His heart swelled as his mind raced at the thought of being allowed to create the perfect Winterborne space. Something cozy yet clean, a space with a lot of books and even more blankets, and a perfect desk setup for his high-powered laptop. Most importantly, he could incorporate his preferred color. Cerulean walls, navy curtains? Obviously, there would be a lot of blue.

 

It was no secret that Winterborne were drawn to the color blue, as the season of the individual determined their eye color. Jungkook was gifted with sapphire blue eyes due to his birth during the winter months. Seasonal color tended to dominate one’s vision, weakening other wavelengths just enough to dull them and enhancing one’s preferred tone. Summerborne were endowed with red eyes, Autumnborne with brown eyes and Springborne with green eyes.

 

Saturated eye color pigments like Jungkook’s typically meant an individual was more in tune with their season, experiencing reactions to adverse temperature with greater intensity and being drawn to their season’s preferred weather patterns. 

 

Eyes with the strongest of pigments could even glow during intense bouts of emotion, although those possessing such traits were incredibly rare. Glowing often signified a high dosage of power, an issue that plagued Jungkook’s existence, and he tried to avoid it happening in public at all costs.

 

With irises of an almost unnatural blue, the Winterborne saw cool shades with a clarity and beauty that couldn’t be expressed with words. From the sky above his head to his navy jacket, anything woven with blue tended to hum with life before Jungkook’s eyes, as though lit beneath the surface with LEDs.

 

Jungkook continued to walk with his tour group around Aethera for several hours, eventually being shown key locations on campus, including the dining hall, gym and many class buildings. There was even one of his favorite coffee chains, to Jungkook’s delight. 

 

Hoseok was describing the transport system into the local town center when Jungkook finally noticed the sun had set. So absorbed in his thoughts, he hadn’t realized it was now evening as he looked out to the darkening horizon. He took a deep breath, lungs filling with cool, dusk air, his exhale revealing itself with a barely visible puff. 

 

With the heat no longer attempting to suffocate him, Jungkook felt enough at ease to gently pry loose the lock on his abilities, as if to uncoil an internal tension. Cold fluttered into the air, the power tangling with his breath. He had tempered his control enough to keep it from extending further than a few inches from his skin, since knocking the immediate vicinity’s temperature down wouldn’t make his peers too happy, a lesson he had quickly learned in the past. With each exhale, he felt the tiniest fraction of cold leave him, exhaustion from the draining move-in day seeping into his muscles in its place.

 

From the corner of his eye, Jungkook spotted another student in the group shivering ever so slightly, most likely due to their lack of a jacket. Their heathered green t-shirt was evidently doing little to defend them from the crisp fall temperature. The student seemed to be attempting to hide his discomfort, their chatter flowing endlessly to Hoseok as they travelled between locations, but from his vantage point at the back of the group, Jungkook could see the student pulling his tanned arms tighter around himself. 

 

Must be a Summerborne. Why the hell wouldn’t he think to bring a jacket knowing it’s autumn? And is it seriously that cold? Sliding his phone from his jeans pocket, Jungkook cast a quick glance at the home screen. His eyebrows raised when he saw the temperature had plummeted from swelteringly hot to a brisk fall night in a matter of a few hours. 

 

But still, the shivering student should have known better. 

 

The tour led them to a structure far off to the side of campus that resembled a stone cylinder atop a grassy hill. As they climbed seemingly endless spiral stairs to the zenith of the campus watchtower, Hoseok explained it had historically been used by guards to spot the approach of intruders over the rolling hills, although in present day, it wasn’t used for much more than watching the local late student run to class. 

 

The top floor contained a renovated study area, all of the previously open access to the window areas now covered in glass. Inviting, cushy couches accented the interior, some tables and chairs scattered about, while the natural light of the setting sun encased the circular space in a warm glow. The private coziness of it all brought comfort to Jungkook.

 

An oddly small staircase caught his eye, a trap door existing overhead. Hoseok led them up the steps and onto the roof of the watchtower, it’s round area enclosed with shining metal bars and a modernized awning sheltering half the space.

 

A welcome cold draft brushed over Jungkook’s skin as he stepped out into the fresh air. The roof sported benches, glass tables, leafy green plants and plenty of quiet study space. Most importantly, at least to Jungkook, the temperature was significantly cooler at the higher elevation, and to top it, the view was better than any other on campus. 

 

Jungkook’s eyes sparkled when he admired the open sky above, mind whizzing as a small smile stretched over his face. Oranges bled to yellows and purples against the horizon, the view of the brilliant setting sun completely unobscured. Stars twinkled against the darkening backdrop on the opposing side. This was definitely going to be his favorite study spot.

 

Most of the tour group acknowledged the area but were quick to scurry back downstairs. A few Autumnborne eyed the roof with approval - Jungkook guessed they were born closer to winter and had better tolerance to the cold - but it seemed the majority of the crowd was still rather unsettled with the dramatic drop in the day’s climate. His face fell as he approached the darkening edge to gaze up at the stars, the usual isolation finding purchase in his heart. It was all too typical that he would find himself alone in his admiration. 

 

A small part of Jungkook felt disappointed as he lingered behind, loath to return inside. He wanted to relax for more than a moment, to catch his breath and admire the sun setting over the hills. Quiet moments like these were precious to him, providing a small break in the chaos life usually had to offer. Leaning over the side, his hands gripped the cold railing lining the patio, the cool metal soothing against the power that prickled his palms. Students wove between buildings and along sidewalks in the distance, their travels akin to that of marching ants. 

 

Eventually, the pull of returning to his group became too much, and Jungkook reluctantly turned from his spot to rejoin them.

 

Surprise froze him in place as he spotted another student that had remained under the awning, their silent focus facing away from Jungkook and out towards the brilliantly colored horizon. The breeze gently tousled the tips of their blonde waves as they leaned with crossed arms over the rail. 

 

Pinks and reds tangled with blues around their figure, the rays wrapping themselves around the dark silhouette and splaying out into what could have been mistaken for wings of color. Jungkook found the scene to be oddly pensive, so thick with pause that he felt he were intruding upon an intimate moment. 

 

The overwhelming urge to paint the winged stranger’s figure swept through Jungkook with a sudden strength. He stared unblinkingly at the scene, hoping to burn it into his memory to possibly revisit during his artistic endeavors. The stranger, cloaked in the shadow of the sun, was both curved and angular in all the correct places, their windswept hair and somber posture captivating. The voice telling Jungkook he was a creep for lingering behind the student in silence was dutifully ignored.

 

A quiet sigh escaped from the stranger as they finally moved and made their way to the exit, startling Jungkook from his reverie. Shimmering beads strung along fraying bracelets glinted in the sunset when the student reached up to mess their hair, descending through the trapdoor. Jungkook was grateful his pitiful attempts to blend into the wall had worked, since the student hadn’t seemed to notice his unintentional and probably creepy level of observation. 

 

Heaving an exhale in relief, Jungkook followed the student down the stairway shortly after their departure. When he rejoined his group, the trapdoor softly shutting behind him, he couldn’t help but shake his head at the lingering complaints of cold from the many Summer and Autumnborne.

 

Their lacking outfits are entirely their doing and they need to learn their lessons, he thought firmly, eyeing bare arms and legs while his fingers played with the frayed cuff of his jersey jacket. The seam had grown taught as he absentmindedly froze and thawed it under his touch. Hadn’t their rich parents taught them to dress themselves? Or maybe their butlers? Did designer clothing stores not sell pants?

 

He attempted to refocus on Hoseok’s words about the significance of the local hiking trail, the Summer pointing to the tree line through the watchtower glass. But Jungkook found himself once again acutely aware of a shivering back in front of him, repeatedly distracted by the tiny flutter of blonde from the corner of his vision. It was the same student that had seemed cold earlier during the trip, the same student who had lingered at the top of the tower.

 

Earlier, it had seemed that the blonde was able to shake off the plummet in temperature. But after the few moments they just spent on the roof, he could now see their soft waves bounce as his teeth chattered.

 

Jungkook stuck his tongue in his cheek, trying to look anywhere but at the back of the student. Slender, ringed fingers snaked their way into view, gripping tightly around the boy’s skinny arms. He swore he saw the lightest tinge of frost on the stranger’s fingertips, the colder spots highlighted to Jungkook’s blue-tuned eyes. 

 

He pressed his lips into a firm line.

 

Don’t be the hero, Jungkook. Don’t force this weird ass, socially awkward moment. Don’t. Do NOT do it. You heard me. Seriously, do not. Don’t-

 

Jungkook took a deep breath, tugging off his navy jersey jacket and feeling as though he were about to walk straight off a cliff. Without bothering to release exhale, he took several steps towards the shivering blonde. 

 

Before he could regret it, Jungkook quickly placed the coat onto the stranger’s shoulders, the mess of golden, wavy hair trailing down to a soft nape, interrupted by the tiny chain of what was probably an incredibly expensive necklace. He felt his knuckles prickle with the tiniest flare of pain against the student’s junction between their neck and collarbone, barely enough to graze the skin, as he withdrew his hand.

 

The stranger startled as though electrified, his ringed fingers shooting up to his neck reflexively. Whipping around at the sudden touch, the boy’s surprised eyes locked to Jungkook’s in an instant. His mouth parted wordlessly, a touch of blue on his lips, unknowingly displaying his level of cold to the Winter. 

 

Jungkook found that the eyes piercing him held mostly genuine surprise, but also a hint of accusation. Most importantly, they were not the usual red or brown irises, but a startling emerald as alive as the surrounding nature. 

 

Green eyes, Jungkook thought, swearing internally. Springborne eyes

 

The surrounding air invaded his lungs almost immediately. The aroma was chokingly sweet, a heavy lavender and chamomile cloud wafting over him, punctuated with sharp tangs of citrus and a hint of lemon. The scent of the Springborne was overwhelmingly powerful, far more than any other he had encountered before. 

 

“O-oh,” the blonde said, stumbling out of his stupor after a few seconds and quickly breaking eye contact. He seemed as surprised to see a Winterborne as Jungkook was to see a Spring. “Thank you.” He hesitantly shrugged the jersey jacket around himself a bit more, fully covering his tanned arms. Looking slightly uncomfortable, the blonde rubbed a hand at his neck while his eyes seemed to be trying to land anywhere but on the Winter’s. 

 

Jungkook’s eyes flicked to the movement at the boy’s neck, undoubtedly where he had accidentally brushed the Spring with his knuckles. The softest touch of blue was blooming on their skin, barely visible between his slender fingers.

 

Shit.

 

“I.. I didn’t mean-.. sorry. You seemed cold so I just wanted ...shit...” Jungkook stumbled. Panic flooded him knowing he had managed to hurt someone with even the tiniest brush of contact. Had it been an Autumn or Summerborne like he anticipated, the touch wouldn’t have done a thing. Even with a Springborne, he was stunned such a small touch had managed to leave so much cold behind.

 

A flush began to travel up his neck, the feeling unfamiliar on his cool skin. He felt a sense of dread knowing the embarrassment would make his eyes sparkle with dim light. Biting the inside of his cheek, he willed the glow away with all his strength, but his own power betrayed him as the edges of his vision hazed with the lightest of blues.

 

See, Jungkook, he mentally chided himself. This is what happens when you attempt to be nice.

 

The boy glanced at him again, expression thoughtful when his eyes finally met Jungkook’s without reluctance. This time, there was no accusation to be found amongst the green, only surprise and.. was that exhilaration? Excitement?

 

 ...Light?

 

Jungkook nearly choked at the sight before him, finding the emerald orbs meeting his were subtly lit, a small ring of light clinging to the Spring’s irises in a similar manner to his own. The blonde’s mouth twitched almost as if to smile while shock and awe struggled for a place in Jungkook’s gut. Hoseok made a quip in the background, causing most of the group to laugh, but it passed over the pair like a distant buzzing, their minds lost to the situation before them.

 

“No, um, I really was freezing,” the blonde admitted softly, eyebrows raising for a moment as he grimaced at the ground. Jungkook followed his gaze to the flecked stone beneath their feet. “Thank you for noticing. Honestly, I’ve been shivering so damn much it’s been embarrassing and I feel like an idiot for not bringing a coat. Do you mind if I hold onto this til the end of the tour? I’ll return it to you then.” 

 

The boy’s eyes slowly travelled back up, locking on to Jungkook’s blue pair as he swallowed thickly. Their shared glowing felt like a secret whispered between them, a mutual acknowledgement that both were far more than they appeared. Awkwardness had settled heavily every time they made eye contact so far, but Jungkook found himself unable to look away. He had only encountered a few other glowing individuals before, and almost never a Spring.

 

And the guy was… pretty. Such an unnatural pretty that Jungkook was having trouble not noticing, though he allowed the thought to flow through him as if he were simply observing the weather.

 

Truthfully, he didn’t feel particularly eager to help the student anymore. The presence of a Springborne, especially one so clearly powerful if the glowing green were any indication, made Jungkook’s skin crawl. He had nothing against the boy in front of him, but he felt naturally polarized from the other. 

 

Oh, and that whole thing where he had just hurt the Spring with the tiniest ghost of a touch was giving him a mild existential crisis. 

 

“S-sure, that’s not a problem,” Jungkook muttered, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly and finally breaking eye contact. “Just catch me on the way out.”

 

The Winter took a few steps back, returning to his original position and effectively ending the conversation. Way to make this as uncomfortable as possible, Jungkook. Plunging his hands into his pockets, he pretended to be interested in the view through the windows, praying his glow would fully dissipate as he blinked it away.

 

He tried to sigh, forgetting the Spring’s scent surrounding him for a careless moment and coughing to rid his lungs of the thick fragrance. Scents based on season were typically quite dulled, weaker than perfume or even deodorant. Jungkook wasn’t sure what to make of the Spring’s overwhelming smell, having never encountered anything so strong before. It made him even more nervous to be around the other.

 

If it’s this bad for me, I wonder what my jacket must smell like to him; the scent is probably suffocating, Jungkook thought bitterly, wiping water away from his eyes from his bout of coughing. He’d have to wash the jacket afterwards too, to rid it of the Spring’s scent. What a pain.

 

If the unknown boy was surprised at Jungkook’s abrupt exit from the conversation, he didn’t show it. The blonde bowed quickly from a distance, mouth parting with a silent thank you once again. When Jungkook had began coughing, the boy shot him a small knowing smile over his shoulder, emerald gaze lingering for a breath too long before turning his attention back towards the tour group.

 

Jungkook’s mouth went dry at the smile, thankful when the piercing green stare had left him. The thought of someone knowing his secret on the first day made anxiety thrum in his heart. 

 

Not only had his good deed ended up mildly injuring someone, but the stranger now also knew vaguely of his potency for power after he slipped up. He resisted the urge to put his face in his hands. Namjoon was going to kill him. 

 

The lemon and citrus tang in the air seemed to gradually die down,but to Jungkook’s dismay, the lavender scent seemed to spike heavily. He supposed the Springborne was under less stress as the harsher scents evaporated. At the very least, his shivering had visibly lessened beneath the navy jacket. 

 

Some stupid hero complex told Jungkook that he was glad to have helped, but he still felt a tinge of annoyance for having to endure the rest of the tour suffocating beneath the Spring’s overly luscious aroma. Their encounter had made him hyper-aware of a scent he would have been better off not knowing.

 

Thankfully, the tour didn’t last much longer, many of the students eventually complaining that it was too cold to continue. Jungkook held back an eye roll at their collective whining.

 

Hoseok clapped his hands twice before raising them above his head. “Thank you my fair students. Now, if you would please join the dance club as repayment for my informative, fabulous tour, I would be absolutely honored.” His smile blinded the students for a final time, wiggling his eyebrows and eliciting a few more giggles. 

 

Ignoring Hoseok’s antics, Jungkook perked up at the mention of the club, as the Winter’s primary physical activity had always been dancing. He tucked the information away to ponder over later as most of the students dispersed.

 

The blonde student approached Hoseok to chat eagerly about something Jungkook couldn’t hear, the oversized blue jacket now clinging snugly around his shoulders. Jungkook hesitated while he watched the student exchange a boxy smile with the Summerborne as he quickly weighed his options, wondering whether or not it was worth it to have another awkward encounter tonight to get his jacket back. 

 

Knowing he’d probably run into the stranger on campus at some point anyway, and mostly just letting his awkwardness win over, he decided to make the sacrifice and leave it behind in order to appease his social anxiety and exhaustion. It wouldn’t be the first time he let something go simply because interacting was too much to ask. And it definitely wasn’t because the boy was a Springborne who he had burned or anything.

 

He headed for his dorm, looking forward to some much needed sleep and quiet time. 

 

~

 

Jungkook had already been walking for a few minutes, attempting to memorize his way across campus after his tour as the evening ushered in the night around him. Crickets chirped happily from the bushes that lined the many sidewalks, the cool breeze as sweet as a lullaby. His dorm building was in sight, large square windows illuminated with yellow hues. 

 

Footsteps sounded softly behind him, their patter slowly growing louder with their approach. Jungkook hoped it would be someone who was simply passing by until he caught an abrasive whiff of a flowery scent in the breeze. He fought the frown on his face.

 

Here we go again.

 

Spinning around quickly, he didn’t have a moment to think before he found the blonde Springborne standing in front of him once again. This time, their green eyes were sparkling with warmth, the softest of glows already around their center ring. Blue no longer tinged his lips, and they were now the soft pink Jungkook had originally expected. 

 

He immediately felt his breath catch at the unfamiliarity of the other’s eyes, unused to seeing Spring eyes in person and at such a close range. Warmth curled around Jungkook, as if the air had awoken for daybreak, even during the night, and the breeze reeked of lavender.  

 

“Um, thanks again for this. You really saved me there,” the Springborne said quietly, shrugging off the jacket with carefulness and handing it over. He spoke gently, almost as if afraid of scaring Jungkook away. 

 

The flowery smell clinging to the fabric in Jungkook’s hands wasn’t all that pleasant to him, although it was definitely not as suffocating as earlier. 

 

And Jungkook was panicking, quite frankly. In front of him was a glowing, powerful Springborne who he had managed to hurt just a little while ago, someone he unsuccessfully avoided who now vaguely knew his secret and who was an incredibly perplexing combination of intimidating and soft. He swallowed, words stuck in his throat as they rolled onto his tongue with difficulty.

 

“N-no problem. Just make sure t-to prepare for the weather changes, you know? Uh… um…”  he stuttered, realizing he had attempted to address the stranger by name and failed. His eyes darted awkwardly between the blonde and the darkening hills in the background. 

 

A hazy blue swam around the edges of his peripherals, and Jungkook felt immensely disappointed with himself as he once again let his guard down to glow around the student. It was as if the walls he had built around his glow toppled easily when greeted by a counterpart.

 

“Taehyung. Kim Taehyung. I’d love to shake your hand, but…  well, I don’t think either of us would benefit from that,” he said with a dimly lit wink. Unfamiliar heat rose to Jungkook’s typically cool cheeks, unsure if the wink or deep voice were responsible for it. 

 

The man chuckled, a deep baritone sound Jungkook found somewhat jarring, especially coming from anyone of the Springbore’s size and looks. With airy blonde waves atop his head, a soft yet striking jawline and a small but noticeably strong, tanned figure, Jungkook found himself thinking that Taehyung’s deep voice was anything but fitting. And yet, it somehow suited him well.  

 

Taehyung seemed to see the gears turning slowly in Jungkook’s head as he puffed a small breath, chuckling softly again, this time accompanied by a boxy smile.

 

His laugh isn’t a bad sound either, Jungkook begrudgingly admitted to himself. His eyes traced the curve of Taehyung’s soft lips before moving to his ears, a sparkling earring dangling beside his cheek. A tiny, almost unnoticeable smudge of charcoal lined his lower lid, while a dash of subtle highlighter brushed his cheekbones in a sweeping arc. 

 

The blonde stood before the Winter with a patient smirk and crossed arms, seemingly waiting for a response. “So do you always check people out while glowing like a torch, or do you actually have a name?” 

 

Oh my god. Jungkook silently prayed the darkening sky would hide his deepening flush. 

 

“Jeon Jungkook,” he mumbled, bowing his head ever so slightly. The blue in his eyes seemed to intensify under Taehyung’s stare. He wasn’t sure how to end the conversation, but disappearing into his new dorm room and bringing the temp down to arctic levels seemed like a really good plan right now.

 

Socializing was not his strong point. Socializing with a Springborne basically was not an option. And socializing with such a peculiarly alluring yet utterly disconcerting Springborne? Yeah, this situation was not even in Jungkook’s realm of existence.

 

But Jungkook considered himself to be a realist, so he had to admit it, Kim Taehyung was undeniably attractive. As attractive as a Springborne gets, I guess

 

He had usually pictured most Springborne as rather obnoxious and unappealing individuals, as judgemental as it made him feel. However, Taehyung did not seem to fit that mold. Jungkook was reminded of his silhouette on the roof, purposely chiseled with sharp angles but smoothed and softened in others, surrounded by colored wings. He was almost like a walking Greek statue.

 

Taehyung cleared his throat, smirking at the Winter as both of their irises flared for a brief moment.

 

An unspoken conversation seemed to take place between the two, an acknowledgement of each other's safely-kept secret. Both seemed acutely aware of their situations, that those with potent powers meant living a life akin to a lie, but they couldn’t talk about it openly, particularly in the middle of a public courtyard. 

 

He may have been imagining it, but Jungkook swore he could see amusement dance in Taehyung’s glowing eyes at their coincidence of their meeting, the fiery emerald shining like a faceted gemstone. 

 

Jungkook prayed their commonality meant Taehyung would also know to keep his mouth shut. The silent exchange had tempered his anxiety, but just barely. 

 

His eyes unconsciously followed Taehyung’s tongue as it darted out to lick his lips. The Spring pressed them into a thin line before opening them slowly, seemingly thinking hard about what to say next. 

 

“Well,” Taehyung said, cleaving the awkward silence, glowing eyes boring into Jungkook’s. “I’ll see you around? My dorm is in building two.” He raised his large, dainty hand over his shoulder, his thumb gesturing behind him to one of the large buildings. Light from the surrounding lamp posts danced off the small rings adorning his fingers. 

 

Jungkook inhaled quickly, remembering he should probably respond before fleeing. 

 

“Yeah, t-thanks, I’m in building six. So yeah, uh, see you?” With a weak farewell, he walked off without a second glance at Taehyung’s unnerving eyes. He knew they lingered on his back as he retraced the route to his dorm. 

 

Jungkook finally released a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding when he heard footsteps jogging away in the opposite direction. He groaned, pinching the bridge of his scrunched nose while he replayed the painfully awkward situation in his head over and over, his eyes finally flickering out. Jeon Jungkook, why are you like this? 

 

He tried to focus on the plans for decorating his dorm, but the reeking jacket in his arms felt heavier with every step as his feet carried him home.

 

 

Curled up on his queen sized bed, Jungkook thought he could feel exhaustion permeate every bone he had. As physically fit as he was, moving in on a hot day had been no joke for his Winter body. With his soft blue comforter cradling him cozily, he drifted to sleep soon after returning to the dorm.

 

Dreams of hazy blue murals on large white walls danced beneath his eyelids, morphing into a neatly decorated space. He supposed he was in a dream version of his new room. To his surprise and satisfaction, a swirling night sky existed where the ceiling should have been. His computer setup flickered with comforting hues, the three screens flashing with unknown messages. 

 

The raven haired Winterborne stood from his bed, pulling back the deep blue curtains from his wall of windows, the panes travelling endlessly northward. They revealed a violent blizzard on the other side of the glass. 

 

Filled with contentment, Jungkook cocooned himself in his oversized comforter with a toothy smile on his face, the familiar scents of cinnamon and pine embracing him in a soothing caress. This was Jungkook’s happy place, an isolation appreciated only by him. Not a soul bothered him here, where he could escape to his preferred season and let his power reign free, despite whatever the time of year was in reality. He returned to similar versions of this dream often, waking up feeling fully refreshed. It had always brought him peace, even if it was imaginary. 

 

Many hated or feared the snow, its inconvenience and danger usually overshadowing the beauty and tranquility it brought. And of course, the cold was never looked upon fondly, except by Winterborne. But Jungkook loved it - winter made up his very being. His grandmother had often mentioned that if anyone was born of snow, it was Jungkook, not only due to his birth during a blizzard, but for his remarkable reaction to winter weather. It fueled him, his eyes always glowing in a similar manner to the earth’s ethereal illumination during snowfall. 

 

Jungkook relaxed into his cushy armchair, finding a hot cup of tea already made on the desk beside him. He settled down to watch through the window, feeling comforted and protected by the down blanket around his shoulders. The scenery of the covered hills and paled forest sparked emotions in his heart that he couldn’t name. He watched for an immeasurable amount of time, greatly entranced by the dancing flakes as if it were a performance just for him, almost egging their fall along with his mind. 

 

Out on the hills, a tiny shadowed figure caught his attention amidst the white squall. Jungkook thought it might have been a stray shrub or tree, bent awkwardly under the weight of the wet snow. He chided his dream self for being overly imaginative, his eyes flicking elsewhere over the rapidly expanding blanket of white as he sipped absentmindedly at his tea.

 

But as the white drifts grew inch after inch, the small spec caught his attention once again, this time moving just a hair closer and in an unnatural manner. He squinted, leaning forward in an attempt to get a better look. 

 

Jungkook recognized legs dragging through the quickly piling snow, leaving twin trailing gaps behind. Out on the hill, a small speck in the form of a person seemed to be fighting against the increasingly harsh conditions. 

 

Shock sparked in his system, unsettled to see another being in his dream world. How did they even get here? And why the hell is anyone out in this? Even a pure Winterborne wouldn’t brave this weather.  

 

He watched the figure for another minute, worrying his lower lip. Entranced by their plight against the ferocity of the blizzard, he placed his half finished mug of tea onto his desk, hands now free to press onto the glass. Jungkook unconsciously brought his face closer, his nose almost touching the pane. His naturally cold breath caused a thin layer of frost to skitter over the surface. 

 

The figure struggled on, white flakes tumbling around it, it’s haggard movements slowing with every step. Jungkook’s lip hurt from the pressure of his teeth - something wasn’t right about this particular dream. They had never been this sinister, the dark sky above unusually devoid of stars. A touch of foreboding began to flutter in his veins.

 

After a few more lingering moments, the mysterious invader seemed to stagger under the weight of the cold, finally sinking to their knees. 

 

Jungkook’s mouth went dry. 

 

No way. He shook his head to himself. Sorry, but no, this isn’t happening. He was not about to watch someone pass out in the snow. If he wasn’t alone in this dream, someone else had to be watching too. The campus was huge. Was he the only one seeing this? Were they really out there alone? Just… no. He wasn’t cut out to be a hero, dream world or not. But Jungkook’s gradually brightening eyes were still glued to the person, silently praying they would continue onward. For his sake or theirs, he wasn’t entirely sure.

 

Minutes passed like hours, his fists now clenched against the frigid glass as he willed the stranger to stand and continue. The blizzard seemed to rage harder in response to his hopeful thoughts, wind howling with the intensity of a freight train.

 

With a sudden sway, the figure in the distance seemed to give into the frosty air as it tumbled forward, collapsing into the swirling snow. As if snapped from a trance, Jungkook felt his racing heart drop to his stomach, panic rising in his throat. 

 

That’s no Winterborne, and they’re going to freeze out there. This dream could kill them if I don’t do something.

 

His eyes darted around the landscape, seeing only pristine, untouched snow for miles. Darkness clung to the scene like a dense fog. 

 

The figure was alone. Absolutely and utterly alone.

 

No one is coming to help. They’re going to die right in front of me. His heart raced, the beat too loud and too strong for a dream.

 

They will die.

 

The finality of the sentiment made Jungkook’s mind reel. 

 

Death. Death by winter. Death by snow and cold and biting wind and everything I-

 

Jungkook didn’t hesitate. Forcibly ripping his eyes away from the window and ignoring his shoes and coat, he tore his privacy curtain aside and rushed for his dorm door. He gripped the uncharastically cold handle, shocked to find it locked from the outside.

 

“What the hell?” Jungkook shook the handle once, twice, pulling on the wood with force. He knew it wasn’t capable of locking this way, but it wouldn’t budge. 

 

Frustration building, Jungkook fought the door with all his strength, his toned body doing discouragingly little. He looked urgently towards the windows again, worry growing in his chest over the fate of the hunched figure, but the being still hadn’t moved as the blizzard raged on around them. Their lack of movement scared Jungkook more than their earlier struggles had.

 

The Winterborne knew he couldn’t stop the snowfall for long even with his potent powers, and he would definitely have to be outside to do so. 

 

The door handle grew uncomfortably cold, an uncommon sensation to Jungkook. Still, he refused to release it, even as it prickled beneath his palm. He uttered a frustrated growl as the seconds continued to slip by, head snapping back and forth between his view of the stranger and the handle. The dark curled it’s tendrils closer, extending from the night sky as if to smother all sources of light. 

 

Jungkook inhaled sharply and reached out to the cold as if to tame it, attempting to freeze the door into splinters, but the knob beneath his hand seemed to greedily absorb any energy he released. The cold rolled off his skin in waves, wild and unwilling to bend to his command.

 

Genuine dread crept into his pulse as his powers failed him. Something about this dream was all wrong. 

 

As he glanced over his shoulder again, the dream window began to expand, giving Jungkook a perfectly clear view of the person as if they were a few feet outside the fifth floor. He could now see their silhouette shake violently, likely cold to their very bones. The stranger’s flyaway hair under their puffball hat was shimmering, some longer strands already frozen solid. 

 

“Come on!” Jungkook yelled, blood now pounding in his ears. He still tugged fiercely on the door handle behind him, but his eyes remained firmly on the figure, his panic threatening to boil over at any moment. He just had to get outside to put an end to this ridiculousness.

 

Most of Jungkook’s surroundings seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye. The blizzard now dominated where his room had been, snow and ice swirling around him with glee and wind howling unnaturally loud. The Winterborne didn’t feel much of the cold as it swept over his bare skin, his eyelids fluttering shut. In fact, he had usually relished the feeling - the sharp, mint bite of winter was often bitter but not unwelcome on his tongue.

 

But now, the typical mint taste Jungkook had always craved was laced with iron, metallic and unpleasant. It threatened to overpower his senses and choke him, the thick sensation harsh and unforgiving as it bubbled in the back of his throat.

 

Jungkook knew he tasted blood. He snapped his eyes open, coughing as he swallowed it away with difficulty, the iron jarring to his taste buds as the cold enveloped him with vigor.

 

With a blink, the windows had vanished as easily as they had appeared. Jungkook could clearly see the stranger now just out of reach, a small frame practically drowning in an oversized, navy jacket. He felt a flicker of familiarity at the sight, but quickly pushed it aside to focus on the emergency unfolding in front of him. 

 

Since the dream had conveniently placed him outside, he finally released the door knob with a sharp gasp, the metal searing his palm with an unnatural cold. The snowflakes’ peaceful dance became a violent riot, demolishing all in its path with unrelenting ice and frigid air, leaving only Jungkook and the stranger in a field of white. Wind whipped around them, stinging Jungkook’s cheeks and numbing his fingertips, symptoms of exposure he had never once endured. 

 

For the first time in his life, the Winterborne found the snow infuriating as he witnessed it attempt to smother and bury what he wanted so desperately to save. 

 

The figure began to cough, the noise startling Jungkook as he tried to step forward to aid them. But the Winter found his feet were unmovable, crystallized ice now rooting him to his position beneath the snow that piled rapidly around him. Gritting his teeth, he strained his muscles as he funneled his powers against the ice, incredibly frustrated when his efforts only reinforced the bindings that held him. Fear filled him as the cold still failed to obey his command. 

 

It was a nightmare - one that seemed hellbent on shattering his nerves with all too realistic intentions.

 

Violent, gargling coughs wracked the stranger’s shaking body, forcing them to their hands and knees as they sunk several inches deep into the snow. Jungkook watched with wide eyes as the blindingly white snow before the figure stained with speckles of blaring red. 

 

Blood. The stranger was coughing up blood.

 

Raw, utter panic clawed at Jungkook’s insides as he reached out to the helpless stranger with desperation. Swallowing thickly, his tongue still felt coated with the same red that decorated the snow before him, the hat on the figure’s shivering head already obscured beneath a layer of fresh flakes.

 

“Hey! What the hell are you doing out here?” 

 

If the stranger had heard, they paid no mind to the Winter. Jungkook seemed to be unable to get their attention, but it still didn’t stop him from flailing his arms wildly about. His wrist made painful contact with an invisible force during its movement, abruptly halting the motion in midair. Eyes widening further, he slowly withdrew his injured wrist to stare at it with disbelief.

 

An invisible barrier had materialized between the two, and Jungkook found he was unable to pass through it with his fingers. He punched his fist into the air in front of him, barrier repelling all force with ease. Merely a few feet before him, the figure continued to suffer, hacking up blood that sizzled into the snow where it landed. 

 

“Wait.. no! This isn’t happening! Let me fucking help him!” Jungkook shouted angrily into the squall, fully aware that the dream world was intentionally limiting him. Unfurling his palm, he even threw misshapen shards of ice into the forcefield, only for them to violently clatter as they hit the ground, stopped easily by the unseen force.

 

The figure seemed to pause at the shatter of the ice, their wheezing having ceased at the abrupt interruption. The sudden silence startled Jungkook, his eyes’ otherworldly neon hue now fixed on the unmoving stranger, vision blazing so bright the world appeared to drown in only shades of blue.

 

With labored breaths, the figure’s head slowly lifted towards the Winterborne. Jungkook didn’t dare to even breathe, his gaze locked unblinkingly onto the person before him through white flakes. 

 

Brilliant green irises instantly collided with Jungkook’s sapphire, the intensity of the glowing color drowning out all sound and scenery for several breaths. The wind abruptly ended its howling and the snow halted its fall in midair, melting away before reaching the ground. 

 

The force of the gaze knocked the air from Jungkook’s lungs as he saw tears flow from the widening green eyes before him, drowning his blue world in a momentary sea of shining emerald. An expression of agonized desperation sat beneath a halo of golden hair.

 

Recognition struck Jungkook like a bolt of lightning.

 

“Taehyung!” Jungkook tried to scream, the familiar face renewing his panic with an intensity that dwarfed his earlier worries. Infuriatingly, there was no sound behind Jungkook’s shouts. It was as though his voice was robbed of him.

 

Jungkook saw hues of cerulean dance along every surface of Taehyung’s skin, the cold burning him as if it were fire. Cursing soundlessly, he choked at the sight of the Springborne suffering so much, disgusted by the overwhelmingly painful amount of blue littering Taehyung’s body. He was still wrapped in the navy coat Jungkook had lent him, the fabric glowing in a way only the Winter’s blue-tuned eyes could see. Jungkook’s own jacket failing to protect Taehyung from his agony was like a slap to the face. He strove to make his arm reach further, yelling Taehyung’s name again and again. 

 

Surprisingly, Taehyung seemed to fully understand Jungkook’s anguished, silent cries. 

 

Jungkook!” the blonde mouthed, sound lost to the silence stretching out before them. More tears rolled down Taehyung’s cheeks while his trembling arm moved in a silent motion towards Jungkook’s outstretched hand. His muscles visibly shook under the strain, breathing labored and brow furrowed. Blood stained Taehyung’s blue lips.

 

They couldn’t touch, wouldn’t touch. It was as if an opposing magnetic force existed between the very tips of their fingers. Time in the dream world seemed eager to slow down, as if forcing the pair to watch one another lose hope. 

 

Taehyung’s palm flattened in midair, as if pressed against a hard surface as the blonde seemed to collide with the barrier. He withdrew his hand to examine it, a confused expression on his face. Jungkook shook his head hopelessly as Taehyung prodded the barrier, his other arm shaking in the snow beneath his weight. 

 

Frustration ripped through Jungkook when he saw true fear grow in Taehyung’s illuminated emerald eyes, the hope they previously held at Jungkook’s presence turning to something far darker. Jungkook thrashed against the bonds holding him in place, against the barrier between him and Taehyung, finding little success. Minutes ticked by, the blonde only ending his persistent prodding of the wall to vomit more blood onto the pristine white ground. Jungkook felt his body shake with adrenaline as he helplessly watched Taehyung choke.

 

Taehyung!” Jungkook screamed soundlessly at the sight of the retching, horrified by the alarming amount of blood loss. “Just… hold on! I won’t let you die!”  

 

Shock flooded Jungkook as the words left his lips, the reality of Taehyung’s grim fate seemingly sinking far deeper. He wasn’t sure how he knew of Taehyung’s fate, but it seemed right, certain. White, hot anger boiled in his gut at the unfairness of the dream world, knowing it was forcing him to watch Taehyung suffer, to die at the hand of a winter he couldn’t control. The cruelty of it all was too much. 

 

Taehyung had understood Jungkook’s words despite the lack of sound, the shock of comprehension reaching him as it had Jungkook. He seemed to finally understand that the Winterborne was powerless to stop the cold. His face crumpled at the mention of his fate, teeth gritting as he still hopelessly inched his ringed fingers towards Jungkook’s. 

 

Jungkook’s stomach dropped violently, his heart stuttering as Taehyung suddenly wavered, the Springborne’s strength noticeably beginning to fail him. Green orbs flicked to Jungkook’s once again, illuminated panic now exchanged for a glimmer of hopelessness. Taehyung seemed to understand how this dream would end as fresh tears trickled off his taught jaw, freezing before they hit the ground. 

 

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Taehyung,” Jungkook choked soundlessly, muscles crying in pain as they helplessly fought against the barrier. Logic and practicality assured his mind he hadn’t caused this, but his heart still felt responsible for the actions the blizzard had wrought. 

 

Despite the events unfolding before him, Jungkook was taken aback by the sudden sensation of hot tears obscuring his vision. He lifted a free hand to his face, shocked by his own body. Winterborne tears were cold, unlike the warm drops trailing down his cheeks. 

 

He saw Taehyung try to smile through his agony, shaking his head and mouthing an ‘it’s okay’ to Jungkook, understandable even in their soundless hell. The puffballs dangling from the sides of his hat swished gently with his motion, their fingertips mere inches apart. 

 

At the pained smile on Taehyung’s face, a sudden warmth flooded all corners of Jungkook, from his imprisoned feet to his raw fingertips. It was as if the sun had cast rays on him that, for once, had not attempted to melt his cool exterior but instead rejuvenated him. The blanketing heat was a pleasant aura that filled him to the brim, nearly threatening to spill over, and he found the painful sparks of his power were lulled into a state of tranquility. He had never felt such a profound peace, even in the deepest of dream blizzards.

 

Suddenly overwhelmed with emotion, Jungkook’s chest ached as he inexplicably longed to close the distance between himself and Taehyung, to end the blonde’s suffering, to pull him into his arms and cup his frosty cheeks and thaw the ice from his golden waves. The danger of harming Taehyung with his touch was far from his mind. He just needed the other in his grasp to end this, to change everything.

 

The Winterborne didn’t know how or why, but he knew with absolute certainty that he needed to save Taehyung, dream world or not. The desire to pluck him from the demise of winter was unlike anything he had ever felt. Power danced along every inch of his skin, but it seemed to simply ricochet off into the atmosphere. 

 

Taehyung’s grin faltered, an unknown sentiment leaving his lips in a panic before his arm fell into the snow with a soft thump. With a flicker, the watery green beacons anchoring Jungkook to reality blinked out, unleashing a crushing finality. 

 

The absence of Taehyung’s warmth lanced the Winter like a blade to the ribs, leaving him breathless with bitter cold as a frigid void darker than the tendrils of night swept in before him.

 

Jungkook thought he was yelling as his vision went black and his world fell away. 

 

~

 

Eyes snapping open, Jungkook awoke in a cold sweat, his chest heaving. His hand shot out in front of him to grip the empty air, tiny ice crystals appearing to dance along his fingertips. He was immediately aware of the terrible nightmare, immensely thankful that the damn thing had ended and relieved his powers still obeyed him in the waking world.

 

Craning his neck uncomfortably to look behind him, Jungkook peered with blurred vision through his wall of windows, finding a starry night still covered the campus. No snow was present, and for the first time, he was greatly relieved by its absence. He exhaled a shaky breath, muscles feeling weakened from a prolonged strain when he realized the windows were covered by a thin layer of frost… on the inside, by what he assumed was unleashing the lock on his powers during his sleep. Something he had strove to avoid doing for years.

 

Fuck, Jungkook thought fiercely as he sat up slowly. The Winter threw his legs over the side of his bed and ran his fingers through his dusky hair, leaning over to catch his breath. The view of the carpet below him was a watery one, and Jungkook quickly realized he had been crying. Wiping his tears on the back of his hand, he expecting to feel cold droplets, but the liquid was warm. He froze, heart caught in his throat.

 

What the hell is happening? Jungkook thought with nervous confusion, fingers pausing their tugging at his hair. He brought his wet hand before his face, seeing only a clear liquid glisten in streaks on his skin. Warm tears were not natural to pure Winterborne. Was this because of the dream? The exact details of it were fuzzy now. Maybe he was getting sick?

 

Glancing up at his large mirror on the opposite wall, he cringed at the intensity of his swollen, glowing eyes. He couldn’t help but think of the emerald pair he had seen flicker to darkness as he suppressed a shiver. Jungkook unfortunately knew very well who those eyes belonged to. 

 

He thought of blonde, curled hair, of large, dainty hands and fingers adorned with silver rings, of a small form shivering violently in the cold. He thought of wings of blazing color protruding from a silhouette before the sunset. He thought of vivid emerald eyes, their blazing gaze piercing him with warmth, with accusation, with hope, with gut-wrenching fear.

 

He thought of Taehyung, wondering if the dream was some sort of punishment for injuring him while lending him his jacket earlier that day. 

 

Jungkook had felt real and raw terror during his dream. He had felt as though the person present really was dying before him - as if Taehyung had been dying. It had been realistic enough for Jungkook to still shake with adrenaline, his heartbeat struggling to return to its normal pace as nausea roiled in his gut. 

 

Why did he truly feel he had failed Taehyung? And why had Taehyung invaded his typically private and serene dream world?

 

In fact, why had stupid, pretty Kim Taehyung cropped up in his life at all? 

 

He glared at his jersey jacket in the corner of his dorm room as if holding it responsible for his nightmare, its dark form balled up on the floor from where he had tossed it earlier. The Spring’s scent still barely clung to the fabric, but it was potent enough for Jungkook to cough as he attempted to swallow his ice water. 

 

The Winterborne threw himself back onto his bed with enough force to bounce. Jungkook stared at his ceiling again, eyes still glowing dimly in the darkness. He willed them to calm down, forcing his breathing to adjust to an even rhythm as visible puffs of cold fled from his nose.

 

Why did I have to try to be a nice guy? he thought angrily, wondering why one small encounter with a glowing Spring had caused such a potent nightmare. 

 

Rolling to his left with a groan, Jungkook now faced the room’s division wall, its white, barren surface almost mocking him alongside his bed. He ran his fingertips along the cool surface, attempting to slog through the memories of his nightmare for the inspiration for decorating his room, but all of it was lost to a cloud of saturated green and splatters of dulled red. 

 

Groaning, Jungkook pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes until he saw nothing but starbursts in blackness. He willed his brain to forget the tang of metallic iron still lingering on his tongue, to forget glowing green orbs boring into his own, to forget the pained expression he wished he hadn’t seen on Kim Taehyung.

 

Eyelids finally fluttering shut, he gave into his exhaustion, praying shades of emerald would absolutely not visit his dreams or his reality again.

Chapter Text

“I'm not going to say you look like shit but… you look like shit,” greeted Namjoon, eyebrows raised. The warm light of the late Friday morning sun streamed from the hallway windows behind him. 

 

Jungkook didn’t blame his friend for calling him out as they stood in his dorm entryway. The bags under his eyes might as well have been black holes and his hair was still a tangled mess. He ran a hand down his haggard face, pausing for an explanation that seemed far too exhausting to give at the moment. 

 

“I slept like trash,” Jungkook mumbled, stepping back and holding open his door for his friend to enter. The Winterborne had avoided touching the door handle other than to unlock it, afraid it might still hold the painful cold he had felt in his dream the previous night. To his relief, the metal had returned to its natural soothing state.  

 

“Well, I have just the thing to perk you up,” said the silver-haired man, lifting up the bag in his hands and crossing over the threshold. “You know how Jin is. He had to work his early weird hours per usual, but stayed up past midnight making this. And he was constantly whining about how you probably skipped dinner like an irresponsible teenager having his first night on his own. Of course, I told him that I was sure you ate, but that idiot kept me up all night.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes, the hint of a flush betraying him on his cheeks. So maybe he had skipped dinner one night, sue him. 

 

Namjoon took one look at Jungkook’s guilty face before smiling and shaking his head, dimples on full display as he huffed a laugh. “Why am I not surprised?” 

 

They brought the plastic bag full of what Jungkook already knew was a delicious meal into the kitchen, unpacking the white takeout containers. The pair sat at a modest square table pushed against the wall, a chair on each side. The cherry wood gleamed in the sunlight that leaked through the window above it. 

 

“This place really does look like Hogwarts on the outside,” Namjoon observed after having filled his bowl with steaming food, brown eyes glancing out the small kitchen window. He spooned some of the mixture into his mouth, chewing thoughtfully. 

 

“I guess you could call it that.” Jungkook tried to hide his sudden hunger at seeing Jin’s curry in front of him. The spices smelled mouth watering as he lifted a bite to his lips. 

 

He could have groaned aloud at how the hot food instantly satisfied him, immediately thankful that being a Winterborne at least didn’t impact his enthusiasm for spicy food… although he knew he’d eat anything Jin made with enjoyment. Warmth bloomed in his stomach where cold had previously occupied thanks to his nightmare. 

 

“I swear to god, this never tastes anything but amazing,” Namjoon sighed, gently rubbing his stomach as their containers depleted at a rapid pace. 

 

Jungkook snorted softly, cheeks resembling that of a chipmunk. “The perks of your boyfriend being a chef, I suppose. He can seriously make anything taste good.”

 

Namjoon smiled without raising his eyes from his meal, but Jungkook knew how proud he was of Jin. The Autumn and Summerborne complimented each other quite well, Namjoon’s careful logic balancing Jin’s emotional bubbliness. He was really not one for relationships, but Jungkook had to admit that the warm dynamic between his two friends made even him long for a partner once or twice in the past. 

 

It wasn’t like Jungkook hadn’t dated here or there. He even had a couple one night stands, though eventually finding them distasteful. Guy or girl, it didn’t really matter to Jungkook. Personality was what was most important.

 

He frowned at that thought, curry still hot on his tongue, recalling with distinction that it was not just personality that made people incompatible. 

 

His first true crush had been in middle school. The girl had been a Springborne, but Jungkook hadn’t really cared. He recalled admiring her long, dark hair and dancing skills. Plus, her superhero stickers on her binder were pretty cool. 

 

He had never been close to a Spring before, but how could it be any different than his other friends? He didn’t fully believe the dramatic crap his dad and grandmother had told him anyway - about Winterborne being ‘enemies’ with Springborne. 

 

Jungkook remembered one of their dates, their legs dangling over a rocky precipice. He had taken her to his favorite hiking spot along the trails behind his family home, wooded cliffs overlooking a sprawling landscape of rivers and forests. They spent the afternoon laughing at everything and nothing amongst the pines, and for once, Jungkook had felt free. 

 

During a particularly strong gust of wind, the girl had teetered dangerously on the edge of the cliff. She looked up at Jungkook with ivy green eyes, laughter instantly melting away to fear, before losing her balance and tipping forward. 

 

“No!” Jungkook yelled, lurching for her. As if in slow motion, his fingers grasped onto her bare forearm, heat immediately flaring beneath his palm. The girl screamed.

 

He had gasped loudly at the searing pain following the warmth under his touch. The burn felt as though it were seeping through every layer of skin to assault his very bones. Even though she cried out in pain, he hoisted the girl’s weight back towards him, releasing her arm only when he was sure she was firmly on solid ground. 

 

He remembered the way the girl’s wide, dimly lit eyes had streamed with tears before she ran straight home, the welts coiling around her arm appearing azure in Jungkook’s vision. 

 

He remembered returning home with his own tears cascading down his face, gaze blazing like an inferno for the first time with a piercing blue that had his mother paling as she pulled him into her arms.  

 

He remembered shouting, the feel of a fresh sting on his cheek. The injured girl’s mother had slapped Jungkook on the very doorstep of his home as soon as he had answered her knocking. 

 

“Keep that bastard away from my daughter,” she had spit with venom, her ivy-colored glare sliding from his mother to Jungkook before she stomped away. 

 

Jungkook vividly remembered the accusing stares of his peers the following weeks, even though his own blistered palm was wrapped under bandages, adorned with burns that he thought would never heal- 

 

“Oi, Jungkook! What the hell is going on in there dude?” Namjoon was waving his fork in front of Jungkook’s eyes, tugging him back to reality. 

 

Unceremoniously broken from his trance, Jungkook snapped his jaw shut as memories fled from his mind like a startled flock of crows. He clenched and unclenched his tingling fist, wary of the ghost of imaginary burns while cold danced along his knuckles.

 

Namjoon gave him a pointed look, his left eyebrow arched. “So, do you want to tell me why you’re doing the glowing thing right now and why your eye bags are worse than after that group project you did junior year?”

 

Jungkook sighed exhaustively as he put his head in his hands. He willed the pesky glow away while squeezing his eyes tightly shut, half eaten curry left forgotten in front of him. “I had a stupid nightmare last night about someone I met yesterday,” he explained, cringing at the sound of his own whiny voice. 

 

“Oh,” Namjoon hesitated. “You met someone?” The tiniest tinge of hope in the Autumnborne’s inquiring voice made Jungkook grimace. Namjoon and Jin had always been eager for Jungkook to make a few more friends, but he was less than keen on the thought of socializing with more than his former classmate turned lawyer and said lawyer’s boyfriend. The pair had always been the exception. 

 

The Winter crossed his arms, leg bouncing anxiously beneath the table. “It’s not what you think, hyung, so chill. I gave some guy my jacket during my tour to be nice for once and it ended up being a fucking Springborne, of all people. The purest one I’ve ever seen.” He took a steadying breath, the cold swirling in his lungs.“His eyes even glowed, Joon. Mine did too.”

 

Jungkook felt angrier than necessary at himself, but the nightmare seemed to have thrown his nerves off kilter in a way he wasn’t fond of. Since meeting Taehyung and the subsequent dream, shades of green continuously disrupted his vision, finding their way into his consciousness more than he had ever experienced. 

 

Namjoon sighed knowingly, his metal fork clinking against the now empty bowl. He leaned back in his chair, exuding a calming, contemplative aura Jungkook had come to appreciate. He had told Namjoon about his abilities, his only friend other than Jin to know the truth of what immense power thrummed beneath his skin. They had shared many late night venting sessions, possibly involving a bottle or two of hard liquor, when Jungkook lived in their apartment during the time between his undergrad and his current studies. 

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” 

 

Although thankful that his friend always offered him a choice instead of being forced into explanation or being chided, Jungkook still shook his head. “It was just a nightmare, but it was ridiculously realistic.” He glanced up at the surrounding kitchen, hoping that the ceiling tiles would help him to forget his dream and Taehyung faster. “I’m just shaken up, first night in a new room and all.” 

 

Namjoon’s eyes flashed with concern for a final moment before softening, their mocha tint full of compassion. “I’m sure you’ll get used to it quickly. When you lived at our apartment, you never shut up about having your own place to decorate. Pretty sure Jin almost murdered you for the air conditioning bill too. Now you have this whole space just for you. Still no roommate, right?” 

 

Jungkook shook his head again, releasing a long, cold exhale. “I was afraid they’d dump one on me, but I guess I’m in the clear.” He glanced towards the doorway, as if the spectre of a roommate would materialize. The Winter had to admit he was still comforted by the thought of having the room to himself, despite feeling a bit off today. He quietly observed the flutter of colored leaves outside the window, watching a stray student walk along the winding, grey sidewalks. 

 

Eyes sliding to his phone in his lap, Namjoon tapped his long fingers absentmindedly on the kitchen table. He let a comfortable silence envelope them for a few moments, allowing Jungkook to return to a clearer state of mind and vision. The Winterborne was grateful for the chance to collect himself, reassured that his friend knew him so well.

 

He had met Namjoon during his time as an undergraduate in a philosophy class. Jungkook had been a freshman struggling with an upper level course, while Namjoon was a senior attending it for ‘fun’. Unsurprisingly, the brilliant law major had ended up saving Jungkook’s ass several times. 

 

Hours into a late night paper writing session for a particularly strenuous assignment, Jin had tapped on the glass door of their study room, a large bag of takeout held in his fist as he peered in the window to smirk at his boyfriend. Namjoon, head down and snoring while sleeping on the desk, smacked his forehead against the wood when the door had opened with a sudden bang. Jin’s subsequent hysterical laughter drove Jungkook at first to shock, and then to tears of his own hysterics before they had even exchanged pleasantries. And once Jin had revealed his cooking skills, their friendship had easily solidified before he knew it.

 

“I have to pop by the office at 2 today, even though it’s my day off. Got some time to show me around? We can check out your route to your classes before they start up on Monday.”

 

Jungkook nodded silently, dumping the rest of his curry into the trash with a now weakened appetite. He may have felt a little babied, but he wasn’t opposed to the kindness Namjoon and Jin often showed him - surprisingly, he sometimes welcomed it. They were friends he had never thought he’d be lucky enough to have, and occasionally he found himself unable to cope with his unique situation on his own. 

 

Drying his hands on a dish towel after washing their bowls, Jungkook exited the kitchen as Namjoon slipped his loafers back on. He contemplated grabbing a jacket when he eyed his navy jersey, it’s dark form still balled up in the corner. Grimacing, Jungkook slid the privacy curtain shut and tugged on his black boots. He locked his door behind him, more than happy to go without a coat for a day. 

 

~

 

Attending a campus widely known for its arts, for an art graduate degree, in an art-centered housing facility, Jungkook thought he’d be prepared to enter the art supply store at Aethera. He and Namjoon had just finished routing his path between classes and figured they’d explore while they could, their journey eventually leading them to the several stores centrally located on campus. 

 

But when he had walked through the doorway of the art store, a tinkling chime denoting his entrance, Jungkook hadn’t prepared himself for the sheer mountain of merchandise that greeted him. The store stretched far to the back wall, shelving tall and full of papers of different weights, thousands of pencils to choose from, entire sections of paint and easels galore. The crisp scents of parchment and sawdust and aerosol flooded his senses, along with the overwhelming desire to create. 

 

The Winterborne may have been a digital art major, but his heart also longed for traditional art in many forms. He loved to draw, paint, sculpt and take photos, and fortunately his program as an art student required him to dabble in all sorts of media. He wasn’t striving to be the best at any of them, but he found an immense enjoyment from the act of creating that couldn’t be provided by any other source.

 

His jaw dropped at the wide selection of decorative paints and drawing tools, while his fingers itched towards his wallet. Visiting the store may have been a mistake for Jungkook’s strict budget. 

 

Namjoon snorted softly beside him as observed Jungkook’s state of shock, waving to the cashier that had greeted them. The lawyer had a deep appreciation for art, collecting quite a bit of it himself, but left most of its creation up to others. “Are you going to stand there blocking the entrance or should I get a kid’s cart to wheel you around in?” 

 

Jungkook slid his eyes to Namjoon for the first time since entering, still gaping. “Oh my god, hyung. This is heaven. Actual heaven.” 

 

The Autumnborne smiled as he elbowed him, a gentle reminder to curb his enthusiasm before his irises lit up like a Christmas tree. Jungkook barely felt it as he strolled to the paint aisle and approached the large selection of colored squares, eagerly shuffling through swatches while his friend chuckled behind him. 

 

His mind swirled about, vision snagging on the countless chips of illuminated blues that extended before him. Jungkook thought of his ideal space, his ideal color. He thought of a comforting space, fuzzy images flashing to mind as they typically did before he began his work. Oceans too, with mist and the ebb and flow of a tide. A calm space. Snowy nights with ice and wind and- okay no, not that, not after the shit that I saw last night. But how about a cozy space though, for colder temperatures? An inspiring space for working on projects a lot? What about using the space to… wait, space?

 

Namjoon smirked, hands in his brown jacket pockets as he patiently observed Jungkook’s ideas rush him all at once. “Pretty sure I just saw the light bulb go off.” This was not his first time watching Jungkook’s gears turn during his creation process. He may as well have been in another world.

 

The Winterborne was grateful for Namjoon’s lessons on meditation, as Jungkook had utilized it to help control his glow during his excitement for new projects, although right now seemed to be a poor example of said control.

 

Jungkook grabbed chips of violet, indigo, aqua, navy, black and white, splaying them out messily on the concrete floor below him. He bit his cheek, exchanging shades every so often when they didn’t seem to fit together correctly. Like a puzzle, Jungkook twisted and turned the colors, muttering to himself and running his fingers through his hair until he suddenly seemed satisfied with his combination. He stood abruptly, shooting Namjoon a glowing, toothy smile so full of enthusiasm that the lawyer couldn’t help but return it. 

 

Namjoon followed after the Winterborne as he searched the stocks for the heavy metal cans he needed, matching the swatches to the numbers. They carried them to the register together, their arms now weighed down with painting supplies, a tarp, a small step ladder and colors that had Jungkook’s mind buzzing with excitement.

 

He was made to create, to lose himself in his work, and that was what he planned to do. 

 

~

 

“Check your syllabus over after every class so you don’t come unprepared! You’ll need a lot of supplies for each assignment. And none of that cheap shit!”

 

The painting professor, a woman in her sixties with curls so frizzy that they appeared recently electrocuted, shook the stapled paper in her hands with vigor at the small group of students before her. Her pink-hued eyes, enlarged to bug-like proportions by bronze-rimmed glasses, swept over the crowd with swift observation.

 

Jungkook sat silently towards the back of the studio, blue gaze raking over the syllabus for the fifth time as his professor ranted on about horsehair paint brushes versus synthetic, her shrill voice far from his ears. He had heard the whole spiel about painting supplies in undergrad, but the woman seemed very intent on beating the list of what they needed into their heads. He sighed softly, eager to return to the cozy bed and solitary comfort of his dorm room. After such a long day, his suppressed powers desperately needed a release, like a golden retriever needing a walk. 

 

Classes had begun at the beginning of the week, and if Jungkook thought he had been prepared for the workload.. well, it was enough to bury anyone, even him. With all studio classes, the expectations of his creativity were enormously high, and he knew that his inspiration would be wrung like a sponge before the month was over. From a seven page introduction paper in his History of Modern Art course to a full magazine mock-up due next week in his print design class, Jungkook already felt the force of graduate academics weighing heavily on his shoulders. But a weird, sadistic part of him welcomed the pressure, eager to prove himself and advance his skills as an artist. 

 

“You’re all dismissed,” the professor finished with a careless wave of her hand, her grating voice finally ending its tirade. The group of students seemed to collectively exhale in relief as she swept out of the studio, and Jungkook sympathized with them as he packed up his bag. It was going to be a long few semesters. 

 

He was unreasonably excited during the return to his dorm room, having spent the weekend before classes painting his space from dawn until dusk. A few trips into the town center had him returning with bags full of new decor, changing out his curtains and customizing the furniture to his tastes. If he had to be honest, Jungkook was rather impressed with the aura he had created, although it had taken days to scrub the stubborn remains of paint from his dark mess of hair. 

 

Feet carrying him up the fifth flight of stairs on autopilot, Jungkook approached his dorm room, fishing his silver key from his grey jeans pocket. He couldn’t wait to fall face down onto his freshly washed bed after a long day of three classes. It may have sounded like a lame night to others, but he was more than ready to stare at the ceiling he had created for the rest of the evening. Maybe he’d have a little ramen, play a few games or even work on his project. 

 

Jungkook grabbed the door handle, key at the ready, only to have confusion slowly flood him when the typically cold metal surface was warm. He cocked his head to the side in a tiny motion as his brow furrowed. 

 

The Winter held onto the handle for several seconds, attempting to reassure himself that he wasn’t crazy before his mind raced for several explanations at once. The thermostat had probably malfunctioned, he decided. The sun from the hallway windows couldn’t reach the door beyond the morning, and Jungkook was certain he hadn’t left the stove on, since he hadn’t bothered to use it yet. Yeah, was definitely the thermostat. 

 

Annoyed that he’d have to report the issue so early into the year, Jungkook slipped his key into the handle’s slot, turning it with his usual force. But the key wouldn’t turn. In frustration, he shoved it in the other direction, feeling the lock clink firmly into place.

 

Dread filled Jungkook’s chest. He would never, ever leave the door unlocked. 

 

Oh. Oh no. 

 

His jaw clenched a little harder as he slowly unlocked the door again and withdrew the key, gradually turning the handle. 

 

With a sharp intake of breath, Jungkook inched the door open, afraid of what he might see. Nothing prepared him for the sight that greeted him, but not before he was hit with a strong, vaguely familiar scent that blasted him first.  

 

The warm lull of lavender all but choked Jungkook from where he stood in the alcove of his room, the closet door thrust open with boots and sandals spilling out. To the right of his blue curtain and the dividing wall, of the room he had meticulously decorated and organized down to the last paint drop, were boxes precariously stacked several feet into the air, most of them still in a state of unpacking. 

 

Flowers were woven around the headboard of the bed. Earthy green curtains fluttered by the open wall of windows while an old radio was emitting tunes at a soft volume, most of it obscured by static. A lightened purple area rug adorned the space on the floor, its fibers worn but still appearing plush. Unfolded clothes of greens, browns, pinks and creams spilled out of open drawers, with mismatched socks thrown unceremoniously into a pile in the corner. A bag of pastels and messy notebooks were stacked high on the desk, their contents sticking out of the books at all angles. 

 

The room was swelteringly hot - way too hot for a Winterborne - and Jungkook thought for a brief moment that he might be sick, ice threatening to explode from his veins. He sucked in a deep breath, only to cough at the strong scent.

 

A sudden crash accompanied by a swear from the kitchen tore Jungkook’s shocked eyes away from the flowery scene. He mindlessly dropped his black backpack outside his curtain, terrified for what he would find around the corner. 

 

A figure of Jungkook’s height was bent over the tiled kitchen floor. Brown capri pants clung to his legs, a soft pink blouse decorated with a white floral pattern knotted at his waist and an anklet tinkling above his bare feet. Blonde hair wove a crown atop the figure’s head, as if a halo had found its natural resting place. A long, sparkling earring hung beside the golden waves, accented by a glimmering necklace. Jungkook watched as slim fingers adorned with silver rings gingerly picked up shattered remnants of porcelain from the floor. 

 

“What the fuck are you doing here?” 

 

Taehyung flinched and whipped around, startled by the sound of another presence. Emerald eyes met Jungkook’s sapphire with surprise that quickly melted into recognition. 

 

“O-oh, it’s you! Wait, you’re Jungkook, right? The one who let me borrow that jacket? It’s nice to see you again.” He smiled warmly, green eyes kind and inviting, but not without a hint of confusion. “Not to be rude but, uh... what are you doing here?” 

 

Jungkook’s tongue was coated with a metallic tinge, his fists clenched at his sides. He wasn’t sure if he was more disturbed by the disruption of what was supposed to be his safe place, or by seeing the blonde for the first time since Jungkook had dreamt him succumbing to death by winter.

 

But the Taehyung before him was very clearly alive and not at all bothered by the situation currently unfolding. He watched as the Spring tossed the final remains of the broken porcelain dish into the trash before standing up, brushing his dusty hands on his capris. Taehyung looked up kindly only to find Jungkook’s livid, illuminated glare alight with icy blue. 

 

The blonde’s face fell slowly as his mouth parted, green eyes searching the Winter’s expression for an explanation of his distress. “J-Jungkook, is something wrong?” he whispered cautiously.

 

Breathing through his nose, Jungkook was immediately slapped with the sharp tang of citrus and lemon. He found had trouble stringing coherent thoughts together, mind overwhelmed by images from his nightmare. Willing away the growing light inching into his vision, he chided himself for glowing so easily around Taehyung once again.

 

“This is my room.” He gestured out the kitchen doorway to the newly purchased blue curtain that hid the left half of the room. “I’m not supposed to have a roommate, so what the hell is all of... this?” Jungkook asked, voice tight as he shook with frustration. 

 

Confusion obscured Taehyung’s expression as he pieced together the living arrangements, stepping from the kitchen and into the bedroom area. “Wait. This is your room?” Uncomfortable warmth passed over Jungkook as Taehyung flowed in and out of his vicinity. “So you’re telling me.. that they reassigned me to a Winterborne?” 

 

“...Reassigned? What does that mean?” Jungkook wasn’t sure if he wanted an answer.

 

Taehyung, Springborne Taehyung was here, in his bedroom, unpacking his things to live with Jungkook. Jungkook’s patience began to run out as his thoughts of privacy crumbled around him like shattered glass. The temperature was already sweltering thanks to Taehyung’s Spring presence and his flaring anger wasn’t doing much to help it. 

 

Sighing deeply, Taehyung padded over to his messily made bed, bouncing gently onto the soft cream comforter. The Spring still seemed deep in thought, brow furrowed. He glanced at Jungkook, regret etched onto the lines of his face. 

 

“I’m really sorry, Jungkook. I don’t know how it happened, but this is probably my fault.” Taehyung’s gaze landed on his hands now held tightly between his knees. “I was removed from my previous room due to a... conflict with my roommate. They reassigned me to this room yesterday and I moved in this morning. I was told they alerted my new roommate, but clearly that never happened”. 

 

Taehyung seemed reluctant to share whatever had occurred between him and his former roommate; Jungkook was not eager to push him either. He might have felt pity for the Springborne if his own life hadn’t just been turned upside down. Bringing his palm to his face, he attempted to steady himself while tiny, cold puffs materialized below his nostrils.

 

“Look, I understand they assigned you to this room. But this won’t work, Taehyung.” He spoke quietly through gritted teeth, blue eyes latching onto the Spring’s face as if to reinforce his point. “You know why this won’t work.” 

 

Illuminated, green eyes laced with guilt returned to Jungkook’s face as the mutual secret they shared seemed to pass between them like a breeze. A brief stab of nausea roiled in Jungkook’s gut as his eyes flicked from Taehyung’s pupils to his soft lips, remembering blood staining their surface with vivid clarity. He shoved the thought of his nightmare away with a herculean effort, his irritation only growing while tunes still droned in the background. 

 

The blonde bit his lip, taking a deep breath and seeming to shiver for a moment. Several tense seconds passed and Jungkook felt ready to leap from his skin before Taehyung exhaled and stood, hands now on his hips.

 

“Okay, I get it. This is clearly not fair to you, so we’re going to go talk to the housing director right now and get this sorted out. Immediately.” His eyes met Jungkook’s with a surprising determination that the Winter could only hope were capable of resolving this mess.

 

As they left the dorm together, Jungkook silently reminded himself that hope had failed him thus far, so holding onto it now would be pretty foolish.

 

~

 

“But.. this doesn’t make any sense!” 

 

Taehyung’s hands clenched at his side, his voice taught with emotional strain. They sat in stiff chairs beside each other within one of the many residence life offices. Before them lay a desk of aged oak, the bespectacled director eyeing them something akin to apathy over his interlaced fingers. 

 

Jungkook wouldn’t have been surprised if his lip was bleeding as he bit down on it with far too much pressure. His arms crossed tightly against his chest while he stared at the numerous plaques adorning the walls of the room, awards for ‘Director of the Year’ and ‘Employee of the Month’ littering the space like graffiti. The Winter found the titles ironic as tension rolled off Taehyung in the form of radiating heat. 

 

“Again, I apologize for the circumstances Mr. Kim, but it was you who had initially requested a reassignment from your previous room. As you know, we have a relatively small student body and an even smaller selection for housing. We had to pull a lot of strings to provide you with a new arrangement. Mr. Jeon was the only resident on the entire campus lucky enough to be unpaired, naturally due to his... traits.” The man slid his dull, hazel gaze to Jungkook for a long moment before returning it to the Spring.

 

Jungkook stuck his tongue in his cheek, bristling with contempt as the cold prickled beneath his skin. Lucky? He didn’t choose his season or any of the crap that came with it. All he was asking for was some damn space to breathe. 

 

He truly had no hard feelings towards Taehyung or whatever the Spring had gone through with his former roommate in the last week, but it didn’t change the fact that he now had to suffer for something that was no fault of his own. The unfairness of it all made him incredibly bitter.

 

“You may return to your old room if you wish, but we will not be removing your previous roommate from our campus. Please bring it to our attention if they concern you in the future.” The man scribbled into his notebook on the desk, closing it abruptly as he finished. “Otherwise, your case is closed, and we will not be pursuing action any further.”  

 

Jungkook paused his internal pity party to raise his eyebrows at the blatant dismissiveness in the director’s bland tone. News of the former roommate’s fate seemed to shock Taehyung, his lips parting wordlessly. Jungkook had only seen such emotion splayed on the Spring’s face in his nightmare, and that had been life or death. 

 

Whatever the hell happened with the last roommate, it was shitty.

 

“I… I…” Fists clenched and shaking, Taehyung dropped his stare down to his legs.

 

Jungkook swallowed thickly as he watched Taehyung from his peripheral. He could see the blonde’s jaw working as he grappled with the idea of returning to the old dorm, tears forming in the corner of his green eyes. 

 

As utterly awful as the living situation was for Jungkook, he couldn’t help but feel badly for Taehyung as he shook under the emotionless glare of the director.

 

The Winterborne had been misplaced and mistreated for his season by administrations far and wide, learning to manage his power in secrecy with little assistance. The fear of being reported and swept away by poachers, coupled with hiding such a large part of himself from the world, had made for an often painfully isolating existence. Although incredibly hesitant to assume the Spring experienced the same, Jungkook swore he could see a veridian fire ready to erupt from Taehyung’s irises at any moment, threatening to unleash the same fury Jungkook spent most of his own time locking down. 

 

He and Taehyung may have been biological enemies, and honestly he barely knew the guy, but Jungkook felt the tiniest spark of solidarity with the struggling Spring beside him. Blood mixed with the taste of citrus on his tongue as he bit his lower lip even harder.

 

A familiar frustration began to bubble in the Winter’s veins, for the first time on behalf of someone other than himself, and sympathy for Taehyung wound its way to the surface of his skin in the form of a frigid breeze. The blonde’s head still hung low, his long, glittering earring swinging gently as he trembled with emotion. 

 

Jungkook’s abilities had been tightly bottled all day, unaided by the tumultuous turn of events. The Winter felt himself wrestle for control as frustration threatened to break the dam he worked tirelessly to build. He clenched his jaw tightly, breathing slowly through his nose. 

 

He had to release the cold somehow, immediately, or the resulting blockage would cause far more damage than simply revealing his secrets.

 

Thrusting his cool emotions into the environment with a steady pulse, an icy calm overcame Jungkook. He felt the heat exuded by Taehyung flee in terror as the surrounding temperature declined. The Winter swallowed dryly, attempting to play his power as if it were a stringed instrument instead of unleashing it like a torrent. It sapped his strength, fighting to break free with every breath.

 

The director’s reusable cup developed a thick layer of frost on its metallic surface, condensation giving way to a white, fuzzy texture. The man flinched, eyes widening behind his glasses as a resounding crack echoed throughout the room, liquid becoming a block of ice so solid that it threatened to burst from the container restricting it. 

 

Jungkook glared at him with a fierce intensity, intimidation pouring from his presence as his nails dug painfully into his palms. The rein on his glowing tugged at him with staggering strength as he fought to trickle his power without triggering the illumination.

 

Taehyung’s head snapped up to Jungkook with urgency as the violent cold washed over him, a stray tear escaping down his cheek only to nearly freeze along its path. The short breaths the Spring exhaled became visible puffs while the immediate temperature plummeted. Jungkook was unable to distinguish if fear or shock were written on the blonde’s face from the corner of his vision. 

 

In a heartbeat, the Winter felt his blast of cold answered with a sudden embrace of soothing warmth. He was instantly reminded of the momentary bliss during his nightmare involving Taehyung, when the Spring had smiled through his tears and melted the blizzard away for the briefest of seconds. Jungkook had forgotten that part of the dream until now, as an emotion that could only be described as contentment enveloped him. 

 

He felt as if he were wrapped in his down blanket, tucked safely in his dorm, or as if he were being swept into a hug by those he cared for. Heat snaked down his chest and settled comfortably in his gut, a feeling akin to swallowing a shot of whiskey. 

 

For a terrifying moment, Jungkook felt utterly safe. Care and compassion he hadn’t known he craved blanketed his sharp, bitter cold, coaxing it into a relaxed state with an open palm. 

 

He couldn’t help it - Jungkook took the bait willingly, relinquishing his fury to the aura surrounding him as he fixed his shocked gaze to Taehyung, breathing settling as his eyes poured with questions. The air slowly returned to a balanced state and he felt his vicious cold pacify, as if the beast lurking within was curling up and returning to sleep. 

 

Taehyung bored his own questioning stare back at Jungkook, unspoken tension rippling between the Spring and Winter, their eyes both nearing a dangerous glowing state. 

 

He was caught, cornered even. The discovery that the Spring perfectly countered what made up his very being unsettled Jungkook to the point where it nauseated him. Panic overcame him as his thoughts returned to his living situation, one in which he was stuck with possibly the most inconvenient individual on earth. Jungkook needed air - now - and to get away from Taehyung before he blew up. The director remained still where he sat, shock evident on his face. 

 

“Let’s go, Taehyung. We clearly won’t get any help here.”

 

The Winterborne stood abruptly, not bothering to cast so much of a glance at the Spring or wait for him to answer. He heard Taehyung’s footsteps quickly follow behind him as they exited without so much as a goodbye to the director, the contents of his cracked, melting coffee cup dripping to form a puddle on its coaster. 

 

~

 

Wordlessly, they made the trek back to the dorm room, tension heavy in the air. Their dorm room. Hopelessness settled deep within Jungkook’s gut while Taehyung sniffled a few feet behind him. A roommate in general was too much, but a pure Springborne? One that apparently directly countered his powers? How was he going to survive?

 

Taehyung’s overwhelmingly bitter citrus scent inched closer to his back as they climbed the flights of stairs in their dorm building. Jungkook’s slow, steady pulse of anger grew with every step, frustrated he had no place to return to that could calm him now. Logic quickly trickled away, exhausted frustration taking its place in his heart. 

 

Bracing himself, he heard the Spring inhale behind him, knowing some sort of explanation was about to arrive.

 

“Listen Jungkook, I’m seriously sorry about all of th-“

 

“Save the bullshit, Taehyung,” he said tightly, not bothering to pause his ascent. His tiredness, coupled with the smothering scent of an emotionally distraught Spring and the inability to properly unleash his power were pushing Jungkook to an edge he spent a lot of time trying to avoid. It wasn’t worth discussing now - he needed to cool off… literally.

 

But Taehyung seemed insistent. He heard the blonde sigh dejectedly on the steps behind him before he started again, less patience in his deep tone. “Okay, can you please just pull the icicle out of your ass for five seconds and give me a moment to actually explain-“ 

 

Jungkook spun from his position at the top step to glare down at the halo of blonde before him. Taehyung stopped abruptly, mouth parted as he observed Jungkook’s furious state with apprehension. 

 

“Pull the what out of my ass? Are you serious? I didn’t fucking want any of this!” His chest was heaving, sapphire eyes blazing as his loud voice echoed off the stairwell walls. 

 

“I didn’t want a roommate, especially not one whose presence is like actual torture. No offense Taehyung, but you dragged me into this mess. I don’t know you and I’m not interested in whatever fucking drama you brought with you, so save it for someone who gives a damn.”

 

Jungkook tasted metal on his tongue, mind buzzing with images from his nightmare. 

 

Taehyung’s illuminated eyes hardened in anger at his outburst. “I didn’t ask for this either! Do you really think this is easy for me? I didn’t want to leave my room or get paired with a Winter whose heart and aura are apparently as cold as they come, Jungkook,” he spat, deep voice wavering with overwhelming bitterness. 

 

Jungkook thought for a heartbeat that he hated the sound of his own name on Taehyung’s lips. 

 

“I originally got paired with someone who fucking stalked and harassed me in the past for my secret, okay? I don’t know what you want me to do. I get you hate me for what I am and that I’m screwing everything up but I just.. I don’t know.” Taehyung’s voice broke, anger giving way to desperation on the soft curves of his face. “I don’t know what I did to you. I figured you of all people would understand.”

 

Taehyung’s misery was evident, and Jungkook felt ill as he recalled a similar face smiling at him through tears in his nightmare.

 

Nothing good had come from Taehyung so far. Nothing at all.

 

Guilt for his harsh words would have woven itself beneath Jungkook’s skin at any other time, but all he could feel was the cold threatening to overwhelm him, mixed with the embarrassment of his own emotional instability. He glared at Taehyung for a final moment, swallowing thickly before spinning on his heel to stomp up the remainder of the stairs to the dorm room.

 

He wrenched open his navy curtain hiding his side of the room, the metal hooks screeching in protest, before sliding it closed with as much violent force as he could exert on a piece of cloth. Jungkook heard Taehyung follow through the doorway shortly after and, to his relief, the Spring headed straight for the bathroom, it’s door slamming shut with a shaking force. 

 

Jungkook put his head in his hands, breathing still heavy as his vision flooded with blue. Thoughts of the Springborne swam in his mind like a swarm of hornets as the infuriating circumstances fueled his power like oil to fire. Despite mourning the loss of his complete privacy with sharp heartache, the Winter knew he needed to loosen the bonds on the cold swirling in his veins before he burst. 

 

Hoping Taehyung wouldn’t emerge for a long while, Jungkook clicked on a fan he kept around for white noise, pointing it at him in a meager attempt to cool down. The Winterborne’s dark hair blew gently on the top of his head as he gingerly unraveled the internal cords tying down his power, releasing them one by one. The temperature in Jungkook’s side of the room dropped abruptly as the water bottle on his nightstand iced over. 

 

Eyelids fluttering shut, Jungkook matched his pulsing power to his breathing, withdrawing the cold at each inhale and expanding it as air left his lungs. The resulting effects were so unusually strong after the exhaustion of the day that they caused a thick frost to appear on his wall of windows. He paid it no mind, striving not to lose focus, though the lingering flower scent in the room made the exercise even more strenuous. 

 

Jungkook collapsed on his bed, his energy utterly spent after several minutes. Arm resting on his damp forehead, he felt bitter emptiness now occupy where his usual calm would take over. The previous anger had come and gone with the release of his power, allowing him to take an all too clear look at his earlier behavior. 

 

Guilt flooded him as he thought of his harsh words towards Taehyung, who had yet to re-emerge from the bathroom. Powers that lulled him, a physical presence that unsettled him and a dream that tormented him were tangling with Jungkook’s idea of who Taehyung really was. Not to mention, he was painfully aware of his own oversensitivity to sharing a living space, and Jungkook had taken it out on him like an entitled douchebag. 

 

The Spring had a good point earlier too - Jungkook should have understood better than anyone the fear of their secrets being revealed. And to have a spy or poacher as a roommate? He shuddered, begrudgingly admitting to himself that even he would rather live with a pure Spring than one of them anyway. He knew he was in no position to blame Taehyung directly for his choice, even though it didn’t make the situation any better. 

 

Jungkook wondered how the Spring’s powers had manifested if they were desirable enough to warrant a stalker. Pure seasons had wildly unpredictable ways of channeling the energy nature provided them, some far stronger than others. He guessed Taehyung’s traits encouraged growth, as he had seen the blonde’s room covered in flowers earlier. But the aura that had existed in the housing director’s office was unlike anything Jungkook had ever witnessed. His gut told him Taehyung’s abilities were as powerful as his own. 

 

But no matter how much they could commiserate over their shared secrets, Jungkook had to force himself to accept the harsh reality. Incompatibilities were written into their DNA and their presences would always be unpleasant to one another. Niceties would only go so far.

 

He could be civil with Taehyung, but he didn’t have to befriend him. 

 

Jungkook stared up at his ceiling, blinking as he suddenly remembered his creation from the past weekend. A painted night sky swirled in brilliant color above him, tiny LEDs strung from corner to corner twinkling in place of starlight. The curling streaks of blue seemed to shine and dance in his dimly lit vision, still smoldering from his earlier release of power. 

 

Despite the day from hell, Jungkook still felt immensely pleased with the work he had done. It’d been awhile since he created anything he was truly proud of. 

 

Focusing on the air’s moisture to condense it rapidly, he flicked newly formed crystal shards across his vision with the point of his finger, the flecks of ice mimicking the brilliance of shooting stars in space before they melted into burnout. 

 

At the very least, this side of the room remained his. It didn’t stop Taehyung’s traits from infiltrating the space, but it still was comforting to have an area that represented him. Like any of his other artwork, the walls spoke more of his heart than he ever could with words.

 

The Winter scrunched his nose, lemony tang berating his senses like a strong cleaning product when the bathroom door clicked open, the shift in air fluttering Jungkook’s privacy curtain just a hair. He heard Taehyung linger in the doorway for a few moments, seemingly hesitant before his soft footsteps entered the other area. Drawers opened and shut, punctuated by an occasional sniffle. 

 

Shame wormed its way onto Jungkook’s cheeks. Sure, he didn’t like the Spring’s company, but he hadn’t meant to come off like such a prick. How was he going to fix this, if it were even possible?

 

After a few moments, Taehyung audibly flopped on his bed, the sound of the air escaping his lungs easily distinguished over the hum of Jungkook’s small fan. Their beds were unfortunately the only unmovable piece of furniture, built into the dividing wall like a shelf, which meant the Spring was a thick block of plaster away from his resting place. Fantastic

 

Unbelievable was a good way to describe how dramatically Jungkook’s living situation had changed since this morning. He would have laughed at anyone claiming he would be attempting to sleep a few feet away from Kim Taehyung by nightfall. 

 

Had he not been overwhelmed with the desire to sleep after his exhausting day, Jungkook would have ruminated over his shitty situation for hours. But the pull of rest was stronger, weight piling onto his eyelids as an uncomfortable heat settled over him. He fought off the tiredness until he was sure he heard Taehyung’s sniffles dissipate into the undeniable rhythm of sleep, splashes of emerald interrupting his dreams for the rest of the night.

 

~

 

Knock knock knock.

 

Jungkook’s nose wrinkled, sleep still heavily weighing on his consciousness as an irritating noise berated his ears. He withdrew further into the darkness behind his eyelids, eager to return to his restful state as he buried his face in his pillow. 

 

Knock knock knock. 

 

A groan sounded through the wall to his left, startling Jungkook into a hazy awareness. His eyes slowly blinked open, tiny bits of morning light filtering through his navy curtains. The shuffle of blankets could be heard from the other side before more silence enveloped the room. 

 

He ran a hand down his face, memories working slowly to chase away his tiredness. That’s right, I live with Taehyung now. 

 

As if to stoke the embers of the previous night’s frustration, the Winter realized he had all but saturated his bed in water droplets shed from his own skin, fortunately lacking some stickiness since he didn’t technically sweat. The humidity was tangible in the room, heat so thick it could be sliced with a knife. Jungkook felt his hair sticking to his scalp while his nose scrunched, the stifling aroma in the room having tripled during the night. He swallowed thickly, desperately longing for a cold shower. Disgusting was a weak word to sum up how he felt.

 

Living with Taehyung was going to suck.

 

A muffled, high pitched voice sounded through the dorm door, accompanied once again by a staccato of knocks. “Oi, Taehyung, I know you’re in there. Get your lazy ass up and open the door before I bust it down!”  

 

Jungkook waited several heartbeats before he threw his legs over the side of his bed, listening intently for the tiniest of sounds of life from Taehyung, but the opposing side of the room lay dead silent. Checking his phone, he found it was still eight in the morning, giving him at least three hours before his first class. Had he really been woken up for this?

 

“Taehyung, someone’s at the door for you.”

 

The shuffling of blankets answered, followed by more silence.

 

“...Are you seriously going to ignore me?”

 

He rolled his eyes when only silence answered, tipping his head back to groan at his starry ceiling as knuckles rapped at the wooden door once more. God help me. 

 

Huffing a long sigh, the Winterborne stood from his bed, stretching his arms high into the air as his toned biceps flexed under the sleeves of his black tee. He slipped a pair of blue loafers on, ducking by his closed privacy curtain to answer the door. 

 

In the hallway stood a man of shorter stature, a figure possibly smaller than even Taehyung, but with muscles a little more toned. Colors of cotton candy jumped from the roots of his hair, a medley of soft magentas and oranges that reminded Jungkook of a popsicle. Pink eyes flecked with green landed on Jungkook’s sapphire pair with surprise. 

 

“Hold up, who the hell are you?” The man tilted himself around Jungkook’s frame to peer into the dorm room, curious eyes spotting the form of Taehyung. The Spring had evidently buried himself beneath layers of fluffy blankets and pillows. 

 

“I could ask you the same thing,” Jungkook said dryly, voice still deep with sleep and very obvious irritation. 

 

“Park Jimin,” the pink haired man answered, holding out his hand and eyeing Jungkook’s blue irises with intrigue. “I’m that idiot burrito's best friend, unfortunately.” He flicked his chin to Taehyung’s bed, the mound now wriggling around under the attention.

 

Jungkook absorbed the eye color of the man before him with swift observation, slightly disconcerted by the flecks of green present in the pink irises. He hesitatingly shook his hand, relieved when no burning sensation greeted him. 

 

“Jeon Jungkook,” he introduced, releasing Jimin’s grasp as he turned to provide room for the Summerborne to enter. “I’m that idiot burrito's roommate, as of yesterday.” Unfortunately.

 

Jimin raised an eyebrow, stepping through the threshold to look around at the visible walls, a smirk slowly emerging on his lips. “Oh, thank god you’re his roommate. You’re way too cute to be sleeping with Taehyungie.”

 

A loud gasp sounded from the blanket pile as a head popped out from the covers, blonde hair in complete disarray. “What the hell, Jiminie?” 

 

Taehyung pouted at Jimin with tired eyes as the Summer giggled, padding over to the bed to envelope the large mass of blanket in a hug. “You come into my home uninvited at this early hour and you repay me by insulting me?!” Taehyung whined in a voice of mock betrayal.

 

Jungkook huffed coolly, cold puffs leaking from his nose as he leaned his shoulder against the dividing wall. “Your home?” 

 

As if he had forgotten Jungkook’s existence until he had spoken, Taehyung’s emerald eyes swiveled to the Winter, blaring with an angry green light. Guilt lanced through him when he noticed Taehyung’s face was red and swollen, likely from crying the previous night. 

 

“Yes, Jeon, whether you like it or not, this is also my home now. So fuck off.”

 

Panic threaded through Jungkook before anger had the chance to, eyes darting between Taehyung’s glowing fire and Jimin. 

 

“T-taehyung, don’t you think you shouldn’t-” 

 

“Jimin is my best friend, basically my platonic soulmate, therefore he knows everything. I trust him with my life. I can’t keep this secret from everyone, you know. Some of us actually care about others.” Taehyung shot him a squinted glare one final time before turning back to his friend. 

 

Jimin’s eyebrows raised to his hairline at the obvious tension, eyes flicking between the Spring and Winter as he pursed his lips, but he kept quiet, much to Jungkook’s surprise.

 

“Whatever,” Jungkook torted lamely, already irritated with Taehyung first thing in the morning. He had only been awake for a few minutes and things were already going wonderfully. Deeming it pointless to bother speaking to Taehyung or his friend, he returned to his side of the room, his curtain sweeping shut behind him. 

 

So much for being civil. He’s so damn irritating.

 

An indiscernible whispering flowed between Jimin and Taehyung, which Jungkook likely assumed was about their rather lackluster interaction the night before. It was still eight in the morning and the last thing he wanted to hear was shit talking this early, particularly about him. 

 

Slipping his headphones over his ears, Jungkook plopped himself down at his laptop, colored buttons of his keyboard flickering to life. Cold pricked at his nerves, itching to smother the room’s warmth with the force of his irritation from being woken up so early and from being stuck in this room with Taehyung. 

 

He drowned out their conversation with loud tunes, aimlessly scrolling through websites without registering any words, until he felt the draft of the dorm door signify the pair’s departure. With a sigh, the Winter felt his muscles immediately relax in solitude, tension seeping out of him in waves of cold. His muscles ached as he headed for the shower, all too eager to scrub the surface of his skin raw if it meant ridding himself of guilt and anger and flowery smell that clung to him.

 

~

 

Thumb swiping absentmindedly between the pages of his phone’s home screen, Jungkook sat with his back against a large mirrored wall, his black hood up and a leg stretched out in front of him. Grey sweatpants loosely clung to his form, a blue stripe running down their sides. 

 

He had only been the second student to show up for the first dance club practice and naturally, it was painfully awkward when he had stretched in the corner earlier, obviously by himself. New environments unsettled him, keeping him on his toes until the flow and schedule that typically came with time aligned itself. It always made him nervous when the activities he was set to do and people around him were unknown.

 

Minutes seemed to slip by slowly, his anticipation building before the door opened again, another student arriving with a black duffel bag slung over their shoulder. Their bouncy cloud of cotton candy hair caught Jungkook’s attention first, the familiar small face jolting him with both surprise and a touch of dread. 

 

“...Jimin?”

 

“Jungkook...?”

 

Mouth twisting from surprise into a wry smile, Jimin approached Jungkook to stare down at the black-hooded Winterborne. “What a surprise that I find Taehyungie’s mortal enemy in my territory already, eh?” 

 

Jungkook grimaced, large doe eyes glancing down the wood grain beneath him. His inkling earlier had been right: Taehyung must’ve spent the morning shit-talking him. I guess I had it coming after what I pulled last night, he thought bitterly. 

 

At his grave expression, Jimin’s melodic giggle floated through his ears. The Summer tossed his bag down, sitting beside Jungkook with legs crossed. “Oh c’mon, you don’t have to make that face. I get it, you guys started off on the wrong foot, plus all that seasonal garbage, but Tae isn’t what you think. He’s actually a massive softie on the inside.”

 

Visions of a blonde wrapped in a blanket burrito popped into Jungkook’s mind, along with a very clear ‘fuck off’ still ringing in his ears. He doubted Taehyung was a bad person, but he was having trouble picturing the Springborne as anything but the most annoying thing on planet at the moment. A small pout made its way to his face, causing Jimin to giggle again.

 

“Hey, really Jungkook, things will be okay. I think you’ll find Taehyung easier to get along with over time. He’s all bark with absolutely no bite,” Jimin reassured, nudging Jungkook’s arm with his elbow. “Well, unless you’re into that.” He shot him a mischievous smile, eyes forming a pleasant crescent shape. 

 

“Please don’t,” Jungkook groaned, bringing his palm to his face. He really didn’t need anyone to tell him that his roommate was attractive, in a way the Winter wouldn’t dare think of approaching except maybe in a hazmat suit. They couldn’t even touch anyway, not that Jungkook would ever want to. 

 

“I really don’t have a problem with Taehyung exactly, we just have a lot of… incompatibilities.” 

 

“And I think you’re both capable of sorting out those incompatibilities like the calm, unnaturally attractive and overly gifted man children you are.” The Summer smirked, flecked eyes sparkling as Jungkook snorted. He didn’t agree with any of what Jimin said, but at the very least, the observation was a little funny. He watched in amusement as Jimin took a swig from his iced coffee, the dark liquid swirling inside. 

 

“Mocha?” Jungkook inquired, eager to change the topic as he gestured to Jimin’s plastic cup. Mocha was Jungkook’s favorite - all the sweetness of chocolate with the bitterness of coffee. Jimin nodded eagerly, launching into a tirade about the outrageous line at the coffee shop and how the female barista had hit on him all this week until he made it clear he swung very far from her direction… by slapping his boyfriend’s ass right in front of her.  

 

Even after the dreadful night and following morning, Jungkook was surprised to find himself giggling as Jimin launched into story after story. Taehyung’s best friend was absolutely ridiculous, but he had to admit that his presence seemed to be more enjoyable than annoying so far, an improvement from most others he met. It wasn’t often he could lose himself in meaningless banter, aside from with Jin or Namjoon. 

 

Their conversation was halted at the arrival of a rather loud, red haired Summerborne that Jungkook could’ve recognized from a mile away. 

 

“Hello my absolutely beautiful pupils!” He carelessly waved his latte at the students in greeting, strolling into the dance studio with purpose. “I hope we’re all warmed up, because you sure are in for a wild ride today.” 

 

Hoseok blinded the small group with a white, toothy smile of an almost predatory nature as Jimin and Jungkook cautiously side-eyed each other. Mutual understanding passed between the two: Hoseok was about to steamroll them. 

 

An hour later, Jungkook was staring at himself in the mirror with a rigid gaze, rehearsing a set of steps repeatedly at the center of his group. He counted the beats in his head, purified sweat pouring from every crevice of his body as his fringe stuck to his face.

 

The music swept him away like the tide, all problems ceasing to exist in his state of intense focus. His muscles strained as he snapped them to their limits, his quick learning skills finding a moment to shine as he perfected and polished even the tiniest jagged edges he could find in his choreography. 

 

Jungkook had been considered the best of his class as an undergraduate, although he would have been the last to admit it. He danced in the same way he poured himself into his artwork, as though a piece of him came alive that otherwise lay dormant when his body strove to hit each beat with precision. 

 

To his surprise, Jimin also seemed to possess a strong affinity for dance. Jungkook found himself impressed at the fluid nature of the pink haired man’s movements, his liquid state a distinct contrast to Jungkook’s pointed tension. Together, they seemed to provide a satisfying balance in mood, their dramatically different approaches both complementary and strikingly alluring beside each other.  

 

As the music crooned its final note, the pair all but collapsed onto the wooden floor. Jungkook fell back in a starfish position to gaze at the blinding fluorescent lights beaming down on them. Chest heaving, he bit his tongue, tightening his chains around his cold as it begged for release after the rush of adrenaline. He was out of shape in both dancing and reining in his cold while exercising, especially thanks to his poor sleep the previous night. 

 

A cascade of red hair appeared above them, flaming at its edges by the light around the Summerborne’s head. Jungkook wondered whether his smile or the recessed lights were brighter. 

 

“You’re a demon, Hoseok,” Jimin gasped from beside Jungkook, sweat dampening his pink strands of hair as he brushed it back from his face. “An absolute demon. I won’t forgive you for this.”

 

The red-haired Summer beamed again, clearly pleased with his work. “I don’t say this often, but you both did amazing, especially for your first day. I’m going to whip you into the best shape of your life, just you wait.” They groaned at his wiggling eyebrows as he plotted what routine to torture Jungkook and Jimin with next. Relief swept over the pair only when Hoseok finally moved onto critiquing other students. 

 

Jungkook agreed wholeheartedly that Hoseok was a demon, but he was also incredibly impressed by the man’s skills all the same. Not only was the vibrant Summerborne an expert dancer and a perfect blend of sharp and smooth styles, but he also managed to interact with others in a graceful manner Jungkook envied. It was hard not to be drawn to his presence, like the gravitational pull of the sun. 

 

The raven haired boy felt exhausted as his muscles pulsed with aches, arms still spread eagle on the cool floor, but the pain was almost satisfying knowing he had pushed himself to the brim. Jungkook had desperately needed to burn off steam after his stressful week, and Hoseok had provided a more than adequate outlet. He only wished the exercise had put out the burning embers of his power instead of stoking the frigid flames. He bit his lip, eager to escape prying eyes and unravel some of his cold… well, once his will to move returned. 

 

Icy condensation hit his forehead with a sudden rush as Jimin lowered his half frozen water bottle to the Winter’s face. The cool sensation was soothing enough to almost bring Jungkook to tears as his eyelids fluttered shut, a whine escaping his lips before he could stop it. It wasn’t a perfect fix, but it was a strong enough bandaid at the moment. 

 

“You’re actually pretty needy too, huh?” Jimin giggled with a bright smile, rolling the edge of the bottle across Jungkook’s forehead in a slow motion. 

 

He couldn’t bring himself to argue - right now he felt pretty damn pathetic. If Jimin knew about Taehyung’s abilities, he was sure the Spring had revealed Jungkook’s high potency for power as well. Jungkook guessed he looked obvious while enduring his silent struggle with his power to Jimin’s knowing eyes. 

 

Despite his negativity lately, he felt a surge of gratefulness at having an ally in his dance class, especially on the very first day. The Winterborne finally relented, revealing his first true smile in what felt like months. He wouldn’t give Jimin the satisfaction of opening his eyes, but he couldn’t help the happiness of being cared for that filled him. 

 

He decided he liked Jimin, maybe he could even be friends with him, as heard the pink haired man snort at the sight of his teeth on display. 

 

“You definitely remind me of Tae.” Jimin laughed, resting his bottle on Jungkook’s flushed cheek. “You’re both just big, needy softies.”

 

Jungkook’s smile fell, bitterness coating his tongue as he was reminded of his destroyed privacy, his room now a war zone instead of an oasis. It had only been for a brief moment that he had blessedly escaped thoughts of Taehyung, lost only in the pounding of music and routine movements, only for irritation to find its way back to him as quickly as it had left. 

 

How could he even endure Jimin’s best friend when he was forced into cohabitating with him? He could understand why Taehyung was upset with him, but how was he supposed to work long term with a guy who basically countered his existence, someone who he had zero interest in being friends with or even being within a hundred yards of? 

 

How did anyone expect him to get along with the same Taehyung who told him he cared about no one and to fuck off in the same breath?

 

He stood shakily, ignoring Jimin’s grin and wiping the moisture from his face with his shirt.


Sorry to disappoint, Jimin, but I absolutely refuse to befriend the asshole that is Kim Taehyung.

Chapter Text

“Can you please stop leaving your underwear on the bathroom floor?”

 

Jungkook grimaced as he kicked a balled up pair of silky briefs out of the bathroom. He shook his dark hair with a towel, the toned muscles of his bare chest working beneath his damp skin. Cold streamed from the doorway behind him in place of the usual shower humidity, the temperature clashing with the snug warmth of the open dorm. 

 

The aroma of lavender had gotten easier to ignore over the last month, but Jungkook still hated the way it sometimes seemed to crawl down his throat and nestle its way into his insides. He wrinkled his nose at the sudden change in fragrance, a citrus tang floating through the air as his roommate flushed with the tiniest hint of red. 

 

“I’ll stop leaving my stuff around when you learn to put a damn shirt on.” Taehyung didn’t bother to look up at the Winterborne from his spiral notebook, the messy pages a stark white against his crossed, tanned legs. Lines of color flew from the pastels in his hand, creating an image Jungkook couldn’t make out from a distance, the night sky twinkling in the wall of window panes behind him. 

 

Unfolded clothes littered the space around Taehyung’s bed, a canopy of sheer green hanging from the tall bed posts he had fashioned from tree branches. The Springborne had strung yellowed lights with tiny, round bulbs from corner to corner, the many flowers growing from seemingly thin air on his headboard curling towards their dim light. The wall opposite his bed held an in-progress mural of a rather impressive forest scene. It wasn’t his style, but Jungkook admitted the surroundings were cozy, even as messy as they were.

 

He huffed a sigh, already accustomed to Taehyung’s dismissive and rude attitude. As expected, living with the pure Spring for over a month had been nothing short of torture. Despite their wildly different class schedules and social lives, Jungkook only ended up with few evenings of privacy a week, forcing him to swallow down his power for an often dangerous amount of time or risk letting it loose in public. Getting a good night's sleep had proven impossible, the room temperature easily twice as warm as Jungkook’s winter body would prefer. Occasionally, Taehyung’s scent became so dizzying that he could barely focus on his work. 

 

Infuriatingly enough, Taehyung seemed to be unbothered by Jungkook’s discomfort and showed perplexingly few reactions to the Winter’s presence. How the Spring didn’t also experience miserable similar side effects was beyond him. Both seemed to be avoiding glowing or acknowledging the secret powers each held, topics neither seemed interested in breaching. All they seemed to do was dance around one another.

 

But the worst part of rooming with Taehyung by far was his attitude. After their initial spat, in which no apologies were shared, Jungkook had found the Spring to be insufferable at best. Taehyung only acknowledged Jungkook’s presence to answer basic questions or drop some sarcastic remark. 

 

Jungkook still regretted his initial blow up, but he didn’t think he deserved the animosity Taehyung seemed to slap him with at any opportunity. He had since given up on his efforts to be civil, functioning best when he pretended Taehyung didn’t exist… or until torturing each other came into play.

 

When Jungkook had discovered Taehyung didn’t like the cold, he made sure his occasional baths cooled down just a little too quickly. Jungkook hated messes, so Taehyung took extra care to ‘accidentally’ leave his clothes around the room on a daily basis. Taehyung liked to pile his shoes in the doorway, so Jungkook found some clever hiding spots for a pair or two, particularly under Taehyung’s mountain of pillows. Jungkook liked to work in quiet, so Taehyung once had belted the entire Frozen soundtrack for a whole night (Taehyung may have woken up to a comfortable climate of 40 degrees after that one). 

 

And most recently, Jungkook found with a smug satisfaction that Taehyung didn’t like when Jungkook walked around shirtless for some reason. It was a more than convenient arrangement for the Winterborne - shirts were useless in an already stifling room anyway. 

 

A knock sounded at the entrance, the distinct wrap of knuckles already a familiar sound to Jungkook. The door swung open a moment later, already unlocked in anticipation of Jimin’s arrival. Pink hair bouncing with his steps, the Summerborne strode into the room as if he owned the place and dumped himself onto Taehyung's newly acquired bean bag chair. 

 

Jimin’s eyebrows raised as he made himself at home, smirking at Jungkook’s state of undress.  

 

“Wow, Jungkookie, is it time for the strip tease already?”   

 

Jungkook threw his towel at Jimin’s head, his cackling just a little too infectious for the typically dry atmosphere. “You know I would charge for that kind of service, hyung.” He held out a hand, fingers curling. “Pay up.” 

 

The corners of Taehyung’s mouth just barely twitched upwards, his gaze still on his notebook as the strokes of his pastel paused. 

 

Jimin smiled widely, flashing his teeth. “I’m sure Yoongi would be thrilled to know a mysterious withdrawal from his bank account was for a glimpse of Jungkook’s abs.” 

 

Jungkook snorted. He had yet to meet the elusive Min Yoongi, but with as much as Jimin gushed about his boyfriend, he probably wouldn’t be too fond of Jungkook strolling around half naked.

 

“I don’t see why you’d need to rely on your sugar daddy’s wallet when Jungkook walks around with his shirt off every day for free,” Taehyung muttered sarcastically from his bed, adding a rather aggressive pink streak to his sketch. 

 

“Oh? And you act like that’s a bad thing?” Jimin shot Taehyung a devilish look, grin growing exponentially. “The Kim Taehyung I know would never pass up an opportunity to admire a hot piece of ass on private display.” 

 

Taehyung groaned, dropping his pastel on his lap to tip backwards onto his bed while he lifted a tanned arm to cover his reddening face. “Oh my god Jimin, can you fucking not please?” 

 

Jungkook swallowed dryly as he felt uncomfortable heat roll off Taehyung in waves, lavender scent intensifying to a gag-worthy potential. It occurred to him that he hadn’t thought Taehyung was into guys, but Jimin’s statement certainly implied he did. A flush snaked up Jungkook’s cheeks at the thought of Taehyung within the vicinity of any ass, or worse, Taehyung being anywhere close to his ass. Since when was he even considered a hot piece of anything?

 

He suddenly really needed to put a shirt on. 

 

Jimin laughed mischievously, tossing Jungkook’s towel back at the Winterborne. “Oh c’mon Taetae, it’s just Jungkook. You know he’s harmless.”

 

Taehyung frowned from where he lay on his bed, arm still obscuring his face, as Jungkook awkwardly stuck his tongue in his cheek. Jimin knew vaguely of Jungkook’s powers, but the Winter doubted Jimin was fully aware of how truly harmful he could be.

 

“Anyway, you both know why I’m here,” Jimin started with a serious tone, oblivious to the tension. “We need to watch the newest episode or I’m going to absolutely die. All I’ve seen are spoilers on Twitter and apparently it’s wild.” 

 

“Get it playing while I clean up,” Taehyung instructed as he recovered from his embarrassment, rolling over on his messy bed to tuck his sketchbook away.

 

Taking advantage of the subject change, Jungkook quickly strolled into his side of the room, ducking under the curtain to pull on a hooded grey shirt. He never drew back his curtain, preferring to keep his side entirely private, especially after Taehyung began his residency. The Spring may not have even seen Jungkook’s side yet. 

 

He exhaled a long, cold breath, chilling the temp on his side of the room as he willed his power to empty itself into the atmosphere. Anime night usually meant the longest and closest contact with Taehyung, so he had a ritual of exhausting his power as much as he could beforehand without plunging Taehyung’s side into the arctic. If anything, it seemed to help neutralize the terrible imbalance the pure Springborne threw him into.

 

“Jungkookie, get in here or we’re skipping the opening!”

 

He snorted - Jimin knew he loved the opening of the anime they watched together weekly, after Jungkook had whined incessantly for them to let it play every episode during their first marathon.  

 

Getting dragged into weekly anime night had not originally been Jungkook’s plan, nor his style of socialising, but lately his life had a funny way of proving any and all expectations wrong. Jimin had interrupted Jungkook’s focus before one dance practice, an episode of the anime playing on his phone, when the Summer excitedly noticed it was the same one he had been watching recently. 

 

They had chattered animatedly about the show until Hoseok had told them lovingly to shove their conversation in an inappropriate location, prompting Jimin to quietly invite him to his usual anime night. Jungkook had ignored his practical side and agreed too quickly, blinded by happiness to have a friend who would actually consider discussing anime with him. 

 

Seldom did his previous friendships offer much more than the casual conversation or meet up for coffee. In fact, most of his relationships with others typically broke off with alarming ease. Withholding a secret about the powers that ran his entire existence often had Jungkook ending them himself.

 

On the eve of their first anime night, Jungkook had been ready to leave with boots laced up and coat on when Jimin showed up at his own dorm, perplexing him when the Summer promptly made himself at home. Unsurprisingly, he was less than thrilled to find Jimin’s usual anime night venue was Taehyung’s dorm. Had the pink haired man not cleverly bribed Jungkook with an entire bag of delicious cookies (he had a weakness for Oreos), he would have never even considered spending a night beside Taehyung on his side of the room.  

 

But here he was yet again, joining them for the fourth week in a row. 

 

After a pit stop in the kitchen for a snack, Jungkook took his usual seat in Taehyung’s underutilized desk chair, it’s owner typically opting to work from his bed. He ripped open the snack bag and popped a cheese puff greedily into his mouth, a leg carelessly thrown over the arm of the chair as the opening track rolled. 

 

The change in mood was almost comical during their anime nights, their focus unwavering for the duration. Jungkook was often so engrossed in the dramatics and snacks that he would nearly forget the presence of his friend and roommate, warm feelings of contentment usually filling him when he let his guard down. He tried not to think too hard about being near Taehyung, refusing to allow anyone or anything to ruin his show, but the Spring had been surprisingly agreeable every night so far. 

 

Harmony between Jungkook and Taehyung only seemed to exist when Jimin was present. The Summerborne had a knack for drawing them in against their wills with pointless stories and dirty jokes, even when Jungkook wanted nothing more than to spend some time alone. Despite Jimin’s sometimes annoying persistence, Jungkook had been greatly surprised at his developing friendship with the small man, their dance club having become one of the highlights of his week. 

 

Like the other nights, the trio fell into an eerily tranquil state with the Summerborne around, Jungkook and Taehyung mutually dropping their turf war in order to discuss their show. Jungkook noticed it was the only time Taehyung’s presence didn’t feel awkward or forced. 

 

Lying down on his stomach with his chin resting on his palm, Taehyung reached out to Jungkook, his hand held open and eyes still locked to the screen. Jungkook, so focused on the episode, passed him the snack without a glance. They mindlessly shared the bag in a daze, Taehyung’s crunching and the speakers the only sounds in the room. Jungkook pointedly ignored a few knowing looks from Jimin, his mind far from the truce in the shape of a cheese puff bag.

 

The finale playing before them absorbed all of Jungkook’s attention, so much so that he was convinced the usual comforting warmth, particularly high in intensity today, was from pure enjoyment. It definitely was not a result of the power very clearly rolling off Taehyung. No way Taehyung had that kind of influence over him, not a chance. 

 

As the ending credits rolled, Jungkook’s jaw hung on the floor, feeling both numbed and fired up at the ridiculous avalanche of plot twists.

 

“That was-!”

“-are you fuc-“

“-but did you see-”

“-just happened-“

“-she just turned-“

“-a giant space robot?!” 

 

Jungkook and Taehyung gaped at each other with identically wide eyes as they simultaneously finished their sentences. Illuminated eyes. 

 

Inhaling sharply, Jungkook abruptly turned to look back at the dark monitor screen, an unusually strong flush spreading through him as his vision swarm with blue and green. His heart thudded with something akin to anxiousness or even excitement, unsure if it were from the show’s dramatic ending or the emerald haze now enveloping him. He hadn’t remembered Taehyung’s irises being so saturated when they glowed previously, and it admittedly made him strangely overwhelmed to see it after several weeks of absence. 

 

It was over, then. Disappointment filled him as he realized the unspoken terms of their temporary truce had been violated by their stupid glowing. The anime nights would get too awkward after this, and then they’d go their separate ways, probably just discussing the show with Jimin at dance class. Jungkook was used to this, accustomed to the loss of those with mutual interests.

 

Still, despite thinking he was such an expert at handling the loss of friendship, he felt sadness trickle into his mind at the thought of losing the one night of peace they worked for, at losing the dynamic that was actually a little fulfilling.

 

Taehyung’s mouth parted, eyes flicking to the floor before glancing at Jungkook again. He inhaled, and Jungkook braced himself for the oncoming sarcastic comment or icy tone, muscles tense as he readied himself to escape to his room. 

 

“I can’t believe they turned her into a giant space robot and then killed them off. She literally had lasers shooting out of her giant robot tits! And they killed them anyway! Giant robot titties, and for what?! Nothing, that’s what, absolutely nothing.”

 

Jungkook froze, staring down Taehyung for several seconds as the shock of his words registered. 

 

Before he knew it, uncontrollable laughter bubbled in his gut, escaping from him in high pitched gasps. Cool tears formed in the corners of his eyes as Taehyung’s frown morphed into a look of disbelief. As Jungkook’s laughter echoed around the room, Taehyung gradually erupted into giggles beside him, a boxy smile Jungkook rarely saw making its way to his face. It wasn’t long before they were both clutching at their stomachs, Taehyung’s genuine baritone laugh a pleasant sound he hadn’t yet heard. 

 

Relief flooded Jungkook at the thought of maintaining the status quo of anime night, though it was tempered by a flicker of fear when he was forced to admit how much he had grown to look forward to it. It wasn’t like him to care about interactions like this, but when it came to Jimin and Taehyung, he couldn’t help it. 

 

Jungkook gasped as he wiped away his tears, finally regaining enough composure to speak. “Honestly, what a disgrace. The ending totally sucked, even though they apparently got reincarnated.” 

 

The Spring shook his head, breathless from his own laughter. “I had such high hopes and they’ve been smashed, decimated even. There were so many plot holes, the show might as well have been Swiss cheese,” Taehyung whined, a pout forming on his lips. “Sorry but giant robot boobs in space are not redeeming that train wreck.” Jungkook nodded in agreement, a smile still on his face.  

 

The pair spoke animatedly about the rest of the episode, analyzing every twist and even looking up a few reaction threads to assure themselves they weren't being dramatic. Apparently, they both preferred the art style, but hated the sudden twist the studio threw in for no good reason. Jungkook was startled to find Taehyung agreed with almost all of his opinions, going as far as to suggest an alternate ending Jungkook himself had been thinking of. 

 

The blonde sat up to perch on his knees, eager to talk Jungkook’s ear off, and the Winter had to admit he didn’t mind the attention, even if it was from Taehyung. He was actually thoroughly enjoying a discussion with someone on such a similar wavelength, rarely meeting anyone who seemed as invested as he felt in his niche hobbies. The mutual interest felt justifying and validating, responses naturally leaving his lips before he even had a moment to think. And Taehyung hadn’t judged anything he had to say so far, usually responding thoughtfully or excitedly.

 

For once, Jungkook felt included and accepted, so much so that he found himself strangely reluctant to let the discussion end. 

 

Taehyung’s eyes glowed dimly beneath the soft yellow hue of his string lights, responding to Jungkook’s blue flare as if the colors had a dialogue all their own. There was freedom in releasing the strict hold on his glowing in the presence of others, one that Jungkook rarely had the opportunity to experience, but it was something else entirely having another pure season to interact with. The lights in their eyes almost seemed keen to feed off one another, a dangerous symbiotic dance. He rested his head on his knees to gaze almost unblinkly at Taehyung while the Spring rambled on, unable to look away from the warm green.

 

Curling his arms around his legs, Jungkook felt immensely content, almost nauseatingly so. Comfort wrapped itself snugly around his limbs, his toothy smile having trouble leaving his face as heat snaked down his spine. A new scent tickled his nose, dulling the usual lavender and replacing it with a soft, enticing smell similar to a rich vanilla that was unlike anything he had ever encountered.

 

He was sure at this point that Taehyung was unintentionally radiating a unique power, one that somehow soothed both his mental and physical strains, but Jungkook didn’t feel inclined to resist it. He was surprised to find he really didn’t want to - it was captivating and he was having trouble letting go. 

 

The discussion led to other shows they had watched as they enthusiastically swapped stories, and Jungkook was slowly lulled into a comforted state unlike any other. He struggled to remember why he and Taehyung couldn’t function like this occasionally on their own, or at least maybe without the presence of… Jimin. 

 

Oh shit, Jimin. 

 

“Ahem.”

 

Words ceased abruptly between Jungkook and Taehyung, both stunned as they remembered the presence of their friend. Jimin had kept peculiarly quiet during their exchange, other than to giggle here and there, and Jungkook was quickly coming to realize that the only time Jimin didn’t run his mouth was when he and Taehyung interacted in a mildly positive manner.

 

And if the Summer’s shit-eating grin he currently wore were any indication, he was enjoying them playing nice a little too much. Jungkook cocked his head to the side in a tiny motion, finding Jimin’s look inexplicably irritating. 

 

“Clearly you both are a bit busy here,” he smirked, rising to his feet with phone in hand. “Yoongi just asked if I could swing by, so I’ll see myself out. I think you’ll be just fine without me.” 

 

He ruffled Taehyung’s blonde waves in parting before heading for the door, pausing at the handle. “I expect you both to behave. Taetae, text me later,” Jimin said, winking at them both before taking his leave. The pair stared after him like deer in headlights. 

 

The room fell stiflingly silent at the sound of the door shutting, even though the two who had been filling it with an excited discussion moments ago still remained. 

 

As the haze from his mind scattered after Jimin’s abrupt departure, Jungkook suddenly felt incredibly out of place to be lounging casually in Taehyung’s room. 

 

How was he supposed to function now? Taehyung had only been nice enough to allow Jungkook into anime night because Jimin asked, begged even. The Summer had just abandoned him in his enemy’s lair. He was going to absolutely murder Park Jimin next time he saw the little pain in the-

 

“Umm.. did you want to maybe watch an episode of that other show we were just talking about?” 

 

Jungkook slowly lifted his head in shock at the Spring, subtly aware of the peace offering behind his words. Taehyung was biting his lip and looking incredibly interested in his purple carpet, his ringed fingers playing with the tassels of his pillow while his eyes still blazed. 

 

Without Jimin, Jungkook struggled to recall exactly what made it okay to hang out with Taehyung. Anxiousness flowed through him as he searched for a reason other than it feeling… right. It was true, he did sort of want to stay, but was it only thanks to Taehyung’s comforting aura? The Spring had purposely grated his nerves at every opportunity and made his living conditions hell. Since when had he been friendly? 

 

Friends hung out and watched shows one on one. Were he and Taehyung… friends? Was that what this was? 

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure if he could handle the thought of befriending Taehyung right now, or ever, despite just sharing one of the best nights he had in months with him. Taehyung was a pure Springborne, and Jungkook was a pure Winterborne. They were the last people on earth who should even consider friendship. 

 

Fight or flight response kicking in, Jungkook chose what he knew best.

 

“Um, I just have to do some- some homework and stuff, so I’m gonna go do that now,” Jungkook muttered, mentally slapping himself for his terrible excuse. It was a Friday night for god sake. “Thanks anyway.”

 

“Oh... alright.” Taehyung’s disappointment was palpable, making Jungkook not only feel worse but confused, because why would Taehyung be upset? Didn’t Taehyung loathe him? 

 

He shot to his feet as he felt the warmth that had been soothing him abruptly lurch away, a familiar cold emptiness taking its place. The stark loss left him breathless. 

 

The pair made awkward eye contact a final time before Jungkook retreated to his room in haste, the small distance and a wall between them still not enough to bring him calm. Taking a seat at the edge of his bed, he cradled his head in his hands, fingers threading through his long, dark hair. Taehyung’s side of the room remained painfully silent. 

 

Confusion swirled in Jungkook’s chest as he thought about losing himself in his conversation with Taehyung, how easy it had been to let down his walls when given the opportunity. Not only did he seem to glow with a terrifying ease near the Spring, but on the rare occasion they weren’t at each other’s throats, their personalities were strangely… complimentary. 

 

Jungkook admittedly feared Taehyung’s power, its unpredictability even more frightening than his own. He couldn’t help but wonder if he was only now considering friendship after weeks of passive aggression thanks to the comforting heat the Spring exuded. 

 

And the heat, the good kind of heat, what the hell was that about? 

 

There had never been a time in his life where he had particularly enjoyed anything warm, maybe other than hot food or a cup of coffee, but the Spring’s power went beyond physical sensation. He didn’t have a word for it, but being the target of Taehyung’s positive aura was certainly not unpleasant. 

 

His negative aura, on the other hand, one that included high temps and suffocating scents that he had been forced to experience for a month now… that one sucked. Totally sucked. 

 

Jungkook’s emotions seemed to be played like the strings of a harp the rare times Taehyung turned his dial up. The potential loss of control terrified him, but Taehyung didn’t seem to be pressing the aura intentionally. He wondered whether Taehyung was aware of its effects at all, especially on Jungkook, since it didn’t appear to impact Jimin. He was sure as hell not inclined to tell him either way.

 

Honestly, Jungkook had never met a more perplexing human in his life. 

 

Sighing, he threw himself onto his bed to stare at the swirling galaxy painted above him, begging the artificial universe for some sign of how to handle the Springborne a mere wall away. The flecked constellations held no answers, even hours later when Jungkook let his eyelids flutter closed, drifting into a fitful sleep. 

 

~

 

Mouse clicks and keyboard taps filled the silence in the dorm room as Jungkook poured his concentration into his computer screen. Characters ran across the pixelated environment, edges of the monitor flashing with red as his low health bar plummeted, soon replaced by yellow as he was healed to full health again. 

 

“I have my ult, get ready to go in,” Jungkook mumbled into his headset, the microphone curled in front of his face. Tongue in his cheek, he strategically moved his character forward, his teammates following closely behind. As bullets flicked by his character’s head, he waited for the perfect opportunity to catch the enemy team in their moment of weakness. All he needed was to wait for a slip up. 

 

The strong scent hit him before the noise of the door as Taehyung entered the dorm room, the flowery aroma following him like a cloud. 

 

Jungkook pushed away one of the ear cups on his headset, listening carefully for what Taehyung planned to do with his evening. The Spring was habitual enough that Jungkook learned his routine just by the sounds he made, from the differences in his sighs when he was tired or stressed, to the tap of his keyboard when he was playing games. Jungkook could even tell the difference between the zippers of Taehyung’s bags, his messenger bag usually signifying he was going to class or taking his artwork to a studio, while his duffel bag meant he was sleeping elsewhere, usually Jimin’s room. 

 

A teammate rattled off a snarky warning in his ear about his positioning, and Jungkook bit back a retort, irritated but unwilling to reply. Even though they’d been living together for over a month, Jungkook still felt awkward using voice chat or listening to music within earshot of a roommate, especially Taehyung. 

 

Granted, after last week’s strange anime night, there had been a subtle shift in their relationship, although Jungkook still questioned if he was imagining it every day. Taehyung had suddenly stopped leaving his clothes in the shared areas of the room, had perfectly piled his shoes in the closet and hadn’t made a peep during Jungkook’s usual homework time. It was almost disconcerting without the constant disruptions, although he certainly wasn’t complaining.

 

In return, Jungkook had stopped cooling off his baths and made sure to remain dressed rather than shirtless all the time. Though after being called a ‘hot piece of ass’, he was sure the shirt would’ve stayed on either way.

 

Things had been… peaceful. Not friendly, because the thought of friendship with Taehyung had already given Jungkook enough headaches this week, but quiet enough that it made him relieved they were no longer fighting a war of passive aggression. Though there was an improvement, he still felt confused on how to handle Taehyung’s mysterious soothing power, and the usual abrasive scent and stuffy temperature were still not the best scenario for living in the same room.

 

He heard Taehyung drop his bag of supplies onto the floor before plopping on what was likely his desk chair, the wood squeaking under the weight. The muffled sound of keys clicked through the wall between them, notifying Jungkook that Taehyung was getting on the computer and most likely staying in for the night. Great, no privacy again.  

 

Seagull, can you please friken do something?!” Jungkook rolled his eyes as his whiny teammate complained in his ear, biting his tongue in an effort not to answer. 

 

It doesn’t matter. They can survive without my communication, he thought sternly as his teammates took turns dying one by one. Releasing a long, cold sigh, he spammed the button to notify them that his ultimate ability was ready and to group up. They still scattered aimlessly about, unwilling to listen to Jungkook’s pings or simply ignoring them.

 

30 seconds remaining. 

 

Jungkook grit his teeth, leg bouncing anxiously under his desk. If he wanted to make a play, he had to do it now.

 

Screw it. 

 

“I’m ulting in three seconds, group up and push through,” Jungkook commanded quietly into his mic, immediately cringing at Taehyung hearing him speak in the silence. He shoved the thought aside, focusing on using his last few seconds wisely in an attempt to win the game. 

 

Somehow, it worked. The gravity bomb Jungkook’s character had thrown caught the enemy grouped up and off guard, giving Jungkook’s team enough time to clear them out and take the capture point. A small smile grew on his face when the screen for ‘play of the game’ followed, featuring a cutscene of Jungkook’s winning move. He saved the replay for later, satisfied to see his ranking rise a tiny percentage after the match. 

 

Hunger rumbled in his stomach, and Jungkook was surprised to see it was already after eight. Leaving the dorm for food at the cafeteria wasn’t the most appealing option at the moment, so he settled for his usual: cup noodles, ever the staple of Jungkook’s diet. 

 

Meal heating in the microwave, Jungkook leaned his back against the kitchen table with his arms crossed, rolled up sleeves of his navy pull-over taught against his forearms. He mulled over his last few games, particularly the losses, wondering how he could improve or if his teammates were responsible.  

 

I should’ve told them to play that newer character, or maybe we could’ve taken that last point if we had gone around to the left. Come to think of it, that other guy had only three hours on that role, we should’ve told them to-

 

“I hate to pry…”

 

Jungkook jumped, arms falling to his sides as Taehyung appeared seemingly out of thin air in the kitchen doorway. The Spring was wearing a loose fitting t-shirt and sweats, apparently having changed after class. His blonde locks fell loosely on his forehead, cheeks sparkling with his typical subtle highlighter. 

 

The Winter envied his ability to always look so well put-together, even in lounge clothes. 

 

“I may have overheard you earlier,” Taehyung started. Jungkook suddenly wanted to bolt, his fears proving all too true. Taehyung was about to make fun of him or call him weird, probably. He knew there was a good reason for not wanting to talk with anyone around, he should have known-

 

“Were you playing Overwatch, by chance?” Taehyung glanced up at him with questioning eyes, their unlit vernal green somehow still sparkling in the dull kitchen light. There was no judgement or cruelty found in his question or his gaze, but Jungkook was still wary all the same. 

 

“Possibly,” he muttered, crossing his arms again. “What of it?”

 

Taehyung’s eyebrows rose. “Well, I just so happen to play Overwatch quite a bit myself.” He leaned against the trim of the doorway, fingers playing absentmindedly with his beaded, fraying bracelets. “Who do you main?” 

 

This was weird. Taehyung talking to him so casually was odd in itself, but talking to him about Overwatch in the kitchen was downright weird. 

 

Jungkook weighed his options. Was there really any harm in at least discussing the basics? He could do that with anyone, right? Millions of people played Overwatch, he shouldn’t be shocked to find Taehyung did too. 

 

“I usually get stuck playing tanks, but I prefer Widowmaker,” Jungkook said after a brief moment of hesitation. He carefully watched Taehyung’s face, preparing himself for the moment he’d be laughed at or told to keep his keyboard noise down. 

 

Taehyung’s lips twitched into a small smile instead. “That’s kind of unexpected, coming from you. I would think you’d be a Reaper or Soldier 76 main. Something more, I don’t know, edgy and masculine to go along with that cool exterior of yours.” 

 

Jungkook scoffed, sending Taehyung a scowl, though his insides flooded with relief that Taehyung seemed to be speaking his language. “What’s wrong with playing Widow? I like the skill cap. She’s like the biggest edgelord in the game.” 

 

His mind raced as he pictured who Taehyung might play, what character his personality seemed to align with. At his catlike smirk, a lightbulb went off in Jungkook’s head.

 

“Let me guess… you’re a DVa main.”

 

Taehyung’s small smile turned into a wide grin as he giggled. “Damn, am I that obvious?” 

 

Jungkook snorted, shaking his head. Taehyung was the most unpredictable individual he had ever met, but in some ways, he was an open book. 

 

“Well, duh. She's sassy, cute and appeals to weebs everywhere,” Jungkook explained, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “She fits you perfectly.”

 

Taehyung seemed a bit stunned at Jungkook’s blunt honesty before he laughed, more genuinely this time. “No one has ever guessed it right on the first try before.” His blonde fringe obscured his eyes as he shifted his gaze to look at the floor. “I guess living together makes you know a person.” 

 

Jungkook was taken aback by the words and he struggled to respond, completely disagreeing with his statement. He may have known Taehyung's habits, his pet peeves and even his bits of his schedule, but he didn’t know much beyond the surface. If he thought about it, Jungkook actually knew very little about Taehyung. They weren’t friends, and they didn’t act like it.

 

The beep of the microwave startled them both, and Jungkook was grateful for the distraction from the awkward tension that seemed to always exist between them. Steam rose to his face as he withdrew the noodles and dutifully prepared them, dumping in the flavor pack. The spoon scraping against the plastic cup was the only sound that filled the room for several minutes, but Taehyung still lingered quietly in the doorway. 

 

“Cup noodles again?”

 

Pausing his stirring, Jungkook glanced up at Taehyung with furrowed brows. The word ‘again’ perturbed him, wondering how Taehyung could even claim he knew what Jungkook ate or how often he ate it. “Yeah, what about it?”

 

“I noticed the cups always in the trash,” Taehyung explained, gently lifting his slippered foot in the direction of the bin. “How can you eat that stuff so much and not feel like garbage? It can’t be good for you.” 

 

Huffing a sigh, Jungkook resumed his stirring with a grimace. “Not all of us can afford a three-course meal every night, Taehyung.” 

 

The noises and delicious smells (more than often burning) from the kitchen every night hadn’t gone unnoticed by Jungkook. Just as Taehyung had been tipped off to his eating habits by the contents of the trash, Jungkook saw how overstocked the fridge seemed to be with a wide variety of foods, from vegetables to snacks. Secretly, he had longed for some home cooking lately. He wasn’t too terrible of a cook thanks to Jin, but the cost and effort simply didn’t measure up to being worth it. 

 

The blonde pursed his lips, seemingly at a loss for words as the Winter slurped up his first scoop of noodles. The awkward silence was oppressive and Jungkook had prepared himself to walk away before Taehyung finally spoke. 

 

“Want to play Overwatch with me?”

 

Jungkook nearly choked at the question, swallowing down his mouthful only after great difficulty. He looked up at Taehyung, startled to see a lick of green glowing back at him. The pull of the color all but drowned him, easily reaching beyond his walls to lure his azure glow from the depths of his mind. Blinking rapidly, Jungkook willed it to dissipate, but the presence of Taehyung seemed to make the glow belligerent lately. 

 

Anxiety thrummed in his pulse as he struggled to answer. This was Taehyung, someone he had been hellbent on avoiding. Playing a game together felt like a disruption to the norm that could upset their delicate balance of avoiding one another. 

 

But Taehyung was sometimes an open book, and this moment was proof of that. The blonde played with his bracelets again, nervously glancing at Jungkook while he awaited an answer. Jungkook was reminded of the last anime night, where he had decided to turn tail and flee instead of accepting his offer. He had spent that night grappling with his own guilt, wary of Taehyung’s motives but mostly ashamed of his own suspiciousness. 

 

Maybe… maybe Taehyung just wanted to be nice, if it were possible. Jungkook was reminded of the hundred or so times Jimin had reassured him that Taehyung was actually a big softie. So what was the harm in playing a match or two? They were already stuck in a dorm together, and if they were going to play the same game a few feet apart, they might as well party up… right?

 

“Okay, sure,” Jungkook murmured, poking at the bottom of his cup noodles. “I’ll play.”

 

He hadn’t bothered looking up at Taehyung’s expression, but he didn’t need to. Heat brushed over his skin like soft hands as comfort soothed the cold in his chest, a constant ache he had become accustomed to after living so closely with a Spring. Jungkook was both fascinated and worried that the warmth was a representation of Taehyung’s happiness - whether at the potency of power, or at how inexplicably pleased he seemed that Jungkook had agreed, he wasn’t sure. 

 

“Okay!” Taehyung beamed, failing to curb the enthusiasm in his voice. “Let’s trade tags. Do you play ranked a lot? If not, we can do a casual game mode. I really like the total mayhem mode but I know some people hate it. I’m gonna go turn my computer on!” 

 

Jungkook watched as Taehyung nearly bounced from the kitchen to his side of the room, warmth still fluttering over his skin. With a soft snort, he threw away his noodle cup and returned to his computer, shouting his gamer tag through the wall to his roommate. The tap of keys rang as Taehyung added Jungkook to his friends list. 

 

After a few moments, he heard a muffled gasp. Their curtains did little to block sound, for better or worse.

 

“J-Jungkook… what the fuck?!” 

 

A smirk crossed his face as he opened Taehyung’s profile, ranked in low Silver. “What?!” he yelled back, although he already had an inkling of what Taehyung was about to say.

 

“You’re- you’re Master tier! How’re you going to play with a pleb like me?!”

 

Jungkook laughed loudly as Taehyung’s whine carried through the plaster. He exited and opened the game again, logging onto his extra account he used to play with his lower ranked friends.

 

Taehyung’s whining transitioned to a mischievous laugh as Jungkook sent him a friend request from his secondary name. 

 

He couldn’t believe he was going to play a game with Kim Taehyung, his roommate, biological enemy and counterbalance to his existence. 

 

“Ahh, okay, I see how it is. Let’s crush some poor souls,” Taehyung shouted. Jungkook could almost visualize him revving up to play as he accepted the group invite with a smirk. 

 

To his surprise, Jungkook found himself thinking this would be a fun evening. 

 

~

 

He wasn’t sure how he got here. In fact, if he really thought about it, he wasn’t sure of much of anything lately. 

 

Jungkook sat slumped in a bean bag chair, laptop resting on the tray across his lap. For some bizarre reason, he found himself on Taehyung’s side of the room, a couple feet from the Springborne. 

 

By himself. 

 

“Ugh, I don’t get it, why do I keep doing this?!” Taehyung complained, leaning his elbows on his desk to put his head in his hands. 

 

The last four nights, instead of dutifully doing his homework as usual, Jungkook had been lured into playing Overwatch with Taehyung at his request. Truthfully, he had fun with the Spring so far, neither of them taking the game too seriously but still focused on winning all the same. Taehyung’s energy had been infectious as they played match after match, even into the late hours of the night. 

 

Gaming together had gradually progressed into Jungkook coaching his roommate by shouting through the wall, an inconvenience that prompted Taehyung to return to the dorm tonight with a massive milkshake, specially ordered at a price Jungkook would never dream of spending cash on. He had nearly drooled at the sight. 

 

Apparently, the milkshake would only be his if he played on Taehyung’s side of the room, as the Spring was getting tired of having to yell over and over. 

 

Jungkook pursed his lips together. What could he have said? Taehyung always seemed to pick up on his weaknesses quickly, and he was weak for milkshakes. 

 

He still felt uncertain about spending so much time with Spring, the subtle vanilla scent and comforting heat causing him to feel groggy and tired by the end of the night. His sleep had been restful this week, perhaps too restful as the sweltering heat hadn’t even bothered him in his exhaustion, and he wondered if swallowing down his powers to be near Taehyung was sapping his strength. At the very least, it was nice to get a good night's sleep for the first time in weeks. 

 

Not to mention, it was Taehyung. He had been nothing but nice to Jungkook lately, a complete turnaround from the last month of glares and cold shoulders, but the Winter couldn’t help but wonder if he was falling to a trap disguised as friendship.

 

“You can’t be so quick to pull the trigger,” Jungkook explained for the third time that night. Being a ball of energy while playing was as much of a burden as a benefit to Taehyung, usually causing him to make sudden plays without consideration for his teammates. “Your ultimate has to be coordinated with the rest of the team. You can’t just waste it over and over, hoping it’ll stick.” 

 

Taehyung groaned, forehead dropping onto his desk with a thunk. “I don’t get why this is so much harder for me than it is for you. Your aim is better and you just naturally know when to make a decision.” 

 

“I only look like I understand because I practice, Taehyung. If you keep practicing, I’m sure the decision making skills will come in time.” 

 

The blonde sighed resignedly as he invited Jungkook to another match. Cursor hovering over the accept button, he pondered how to help Taehyung with his gameplay. It was too bad he couldn't just take control for a moment and play for him.

 

Wait... He quickly declined the invite. 

 

Taehyung turned around in his seat to look at him, his eyebrows raised questioningly. 

 

“Here, let's do this.” Jungkook left the room for a moment, returning with his own desk chair that he promptly plopped next to Taehyung’s, taking a seat as the blonde warily watched his every move. “You play. I’ll watch.”

 

With a gulp, Taehyung mumbled an unusually timid okay as he entered the queue by himself. The seconds on the timer grew, Taehyung’s gaze firmly locked on the menu screen while he waited for a match. He anxiously picked at his silver rings, lips pressed into a line. 

 

There was tension between them, Jungkook noticed, now that he was sitting beside Taehyung. It wasn’t the usual discomfort; Taehyung’s scent was still the usual mix of chamomile and lavender, and the heat he radiated was behaving so far.

 

But there seemed to be something unsaid that Jungkook couldn’t put his finger on. Taehyung was being a little too hard on himself, a little too anxious to win. He hadn’t acted like this the previous nights, when the Winterborne had still been on his side of the room. Taehyung had been usually laughing wildly, cheering at his successes and whining at his mistakes.  

 

Was Taehyung actually... nervous to play in front of Jungkook? Did confident, sassy Taehyung even get nervous?

 

The queue popped, both the Spring and Winter pulled from their thoughtful silence. Taehyung immediately locked his main character, taking a deep breath and rolling his wrists as the countdown began. “Okay,” he whispered under his breath, seemingly to himself. “Okay.” 

 

The too-serious, tryhard attitude was just a little too much for Jungkook, forcing him to bite back a laugh. What a dork.  

 

The match began quickly, Jungkook readily offering a few pieces of advice regarding positioning. Taehyung glared at the screen, his mouth parting wider during every dramatic play. When it came time to use his ultimate, as instructed by Jungkook, Taehyung pursed his lips, his tongue peeking out a telltale sign of maximum focus. 

 

Jungkook snorted at the blonde’s overly invested expression, wondering if his own face looked so ridiculously endearing when he concentrated. 

 

He froze at the thought. Taehyung? Endearing? Yeah, right.

 

Still, Jungkook gradually neglected the match as it played on the screen, unconsciously spending a lot more time looking at Taehyung. Hyper aware of the Spring’s habits in such a close vicinity, he seemed unable to ignore the way Taehyung’s brow furrowed when he made an error, or the gentle curve of his lips when he pouted after he was eliminated, or the length of his eyelashes when they covered his green eyes. Every movement he made was a little fascinating.

 

He knew Taehyung was attractive in a general sense, but his features seemed almost unrealistic at such a close range. Jungkook wondered how it was possible for one person to have such perfect proportions, or how they could wear such a subtle shimmer highlighter so well, or how their skin could appear so soft-

 

“Jungkook! Did you see that?!” 

 

The Winter’s breath caught as Taehyung turned towards him, their faces a mere a foot apart. Taehyung’s wide grin fell to an open gape, his eyes momentarily full of questions at Jungkook’s proximity. Jungkook lurched back, realizing he had been inching closer as he observed Taehyung.

 

The game. Focus on the game, Jungkook.  

 

“Yeah, that was a nice play,” he said lamely after clearing his throat, staring unblinking at the computer screen. 

 

Jungkook swallowed thickly as the soft scent of vanilla emerged to tangle with the others, the surrounding temperature growing steadily as Taehyung’s cheeks flushed with the lightest dusting of red. It wasn’t long before the Spring’s green eyes began to glow fuzzily on their inner ring, and Jungkook watched as blue crept into his vision in response, even without the Spring’s attention directly on him. 

 

Glowing by simply being in the presence of Taehyung’s green was a bad habit in the making, and Jungkook was terrified that he had no idea how to stop it. 

 

“When do you think I should ult?” Taehyung asked softly, a little too timid for the intense state of the match. It wasn’t typical of him to be so quiet, his face glued to the screen. Had Jungkook really made him uncomfortable being so close to him? 

 

He huffed a cold breeze through his nostrils. Be normal, Jungkook . They were going to act normal. Everything was the same, it was normal, and they were going to act like it. Right, normal

 

“Wait until Zarya has her ult, then combo with the gravity bomb. Look, the angle here,” he pointed to the corner of the screen, “would be a good launching point for you, they won’t even see it being thrown in. You can camp this tunnel in the meantime, a sniper will probably try to come up. Wait to use your Matrix Defense until they make a move.” 

 

They both seemed to slowly relax with Jungkook’s attention now fully on the game, the tension gradually leaving Taehyung’s posture while Jungkook rambled on. To his relief, the Spring beside him had evidently calmed down after a time, launching into the more typical quips and whines about his teammates.

 

Even as he spoke unwaveringly, it took all of Jungkook’s strength not to hide his face with his palm as he cringed at his earlier behavior. It was like his ability to be a functioning human being flew out the window with Taehyung. Why does he make existing so difficult?

 

‘Victory!’

 

Taehyung beamed at the screen as his team won the match, turning his head to Jungkook to flash a brief boxy smile. The ‘play of the game’ screen came into view, revealing an intro cutscene of Taehyung’s character sprawled across the top of her mech suit, blowing a bubble with chewing gum. It was followed by a clip of her positively annihilating the enemy team with one bomb, and Jungkook snorted as he saw Taehyung had even emoted at the end for style points. 

 

The whole thing screamed Taehyung. The sassy, pink intro, the flawless play, the heart emote at the end - it was all very Taehyung. 

 

“It’s the play you helped me with at the end, the gravity bomb combo! I can’t believe I actually pulled that off.” Taehyung reached behind his head to interlace his ringed fingers, grin plastered to his face. “That was insane, there’s no way I could’ve done that on my own.” His glowing gaze swiveled to Jungkook, latching onto his blue orbs. “It was all you. I really appreciate your help.”

 

Jungkook shrugged as he glanced away, secretly praying his face didn’t look as red as it felt while Taehyung smiled at him. “Honestly, all of your plays this time around were solid. Give yourself more credit, you’re a great player. You just get too caught up in what you think you should do, instead of doing what should be done… if that makes sense.” 

 

It was true, Taehyung really had the potential to be a great player. He had all the technical skill and just needed to polish how he handled different scenarios. Jungkook really admired his persistence in learning new things and willingness to ask questions; they were actually traits he wished he had.

 

The blonde’s eyes flared as his smile fell, face reddening just a hair at Jungkook’s praise. He turned back to the computer, immediately placing himself in the queue, apparently determined to look nowhere else but the screen. 

 

The Winter leaned back in his chair, contemplating Taehyung’s playstyle while oblivious to his flustered state. “Why don’t you try a new strategy during the next match?” He launched into an explanation of another tactic, Taehyung’s blazing gaze not leaving his keyboard, even as he nodded and muttered questions. 

 

The corners of Jungkook’s mouth twitched as he felt soothing heat radiate from Taehyung, vanilla scent prickling his nose while the Spring stared at the color changing keys with laser focus. He must really want to win this time. 

 

“Taehyung,” Jungkook called, just a little sternly with a small smile on his face. Green flared as Taehyung’s stare snapped to his in an instant.

 

“You’ll do great.” 

 

~

 

“Jungkookie, what are you doing for dinner?” Sweat rolled down Jimin’s forehead as he tugged his pink locks away from his hairline. He bent down to untie his black shoes, their dance session just having ended. 

 

Breathing heavily, Jungkook wiped his own face with the sleeve of his tee, muscles burning as the energy from his dance routine trickled out of him. “Probably nothing, why?” He paused to throw ice cold water to the back of his throat - it tasted like salvation. “Did you want to stop to get anything?”

 

Jungkook secretly hoped Jimin would say yes, as he was quickly growing tired of eating cup noodles every other night, but he found it silly to go sit by himself at the dining hall on campus. 

 

The Summerborne simply continued to pull off his dance shoes to replace them with his boots, ignoring Jungkook’s question even after tucking them into his bag. Without looking up, Jimin tapped away on his phone to send a quick text while Jungkook stood awkwardly to the side, wondering if Jimin hadn’t heard him.

 

“No, I’m good, just go back to your dorm. I’m meeting Yoongi anyway.” The pink haired man locked his phone, returning it to his pocket as he gave Jungkook a neutral stare, the expression highly unusual on Jimin’s face.

 

“Um… okay?” Shifting his weight awkwardly between his feet, Jungkook’s mouth twisted into a frown. Jimin was being weird, and he really didn’t want cup noodles tonight. “Are you sure? I’m kind of starving and I know the special is buffalo wings tonight and-”

 

“Jungkook, just go back to your dorm, okay?” Jimin’s eyes sparkled, a bit of hesitation in his voice. “I’m pretty sure Taehyung is there.”

 

The Winter cocked his head to the side, utterly confused as to why Jimin would even mention Taehyung. Obviously he would be there… they lived together. 

 

They walked in silence to the courtyard outside of the dorms, the lack of conversation unsettling. Jimin always had something to say, even with his face buried in his phone. It was disconcerting watching the Summer send a bunch of quick texts while pretending Jungkook didn’t exist. Maybe he had done something wrong? Wracking his brain, Jungkook replayed his recent conversations and interactions with Jimin, but none of them seemed particularly bad in any way.

 

“See you later, I’ll text you,” Jimin said when they arrived outside the dorms, starting towards the parking lot with a wave.

 

“...Yeah.” Jungkook could’ve sworn he saw the ghost of a smile on Jimin’s face as they parted ways. “Later.”

 

~

 

The dorm was on fire. 

 

At least, that was Jungkook’s first thought as he entered his room, only to find the place hazy with smoke and coughing coming from the kitchen. He dropped his bag at the doorway, rushing after the noise to find Taehyung standing before the running sink. 

 

Blackened remains of noodles were searing in a pan as Taehyung ran it under cold water, the sizzle of the metal crackling through the air. Taehyung had obviously failed miserably at making dinner, although Jungkook had never seen him fail this badly. 

 

The kitchen surrounding him was trashed from top to bottom, boxes and wrappers splayed on the table and counters. Open bottles of sauce and used cutting boards lay beside the oven, while tiny pieces of chopped veggies were scattered on the floor.

 

“Um… Taehyung…” 

 

The blonde whipped around, face reddened and hair in disarray. 

 

“Okay, alright,” Taehyung started in a breathless rush. “I know what this looks like and I swear I had this under control until I accidentally threw the wrong stupid oil in and everything just went to shit.” Gritting his teeth, he scraped aggressively at the charred pan, the stubborn layer of soot refusing to come off.

 

Jungkook crossed the room, opening the kitchen window to allow the smoke to exit. He brushed aside the boxes and wrappers atop the table, his eyebrows raising when he noticed not one but two plates buried below, accompanied by two sets of silverware. A tray of homemade cupcakes sat towards the back, decorated with glittering rainbow sprinkles. 

 

Ah. Taehyung was having someone over for dinner.

 

“And what exactly were you trying to cook before everything went to shit?” Jungkook inquired, a hint of amusement in his voice. 

 

Looking sheepish, Taehyung turned to run the pan under the water again. “Clearly I was trying to make stir fry,” he ranted, waving the dirty spatula in the air.  “One wrong move and… well, it went up in flames, hence the smoke.” A pout formed on his pink lips. “I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

 

Jungkook snorted softly at the sight, feeling sorry for Taehyung but also a tad amused by his simple yet catastrophic mistake. It was evident he had put a lot of effort into making dinner, the chopped vegetables and meat miracuously untouched where they lay pre-cooked on the counter, but the noodles were unsalvageable. 

 

“Alright, screw this.” The blonde abandoned his efforts to clean the pan with a sigh, opening and closing cabinets while muttering to himself about his lack of replacement noodles, when Jungkook was struck with an idea. 

 

“Cup noodles.”

 

Taehyung turned his head to look at him questioningly before resuming his digging through the pantry. “No, cup noodles is what I wanted to avoid.” 

 

Jungkook ignored him, making his way to the cabinet that primarily held his non-perishables and removing two cups of noodles. Filling them with water, Jungkook popped them into the microwave as Taehyung knocked over an open box of cereal. 

 

“Oh my god, why me?” he groaned, chex skittering across the tiled floor. Jungkook couldn’t help but giggle - he didn’t have it in him to be irritated with Taehyung tonight, emotions tempered after the physical exertion in his dance class. 

 

The pair had a single week of positive interactions since their gaming began, and spilled cereal or burnt noodles weren’t nearly enough to ruin it, at least not yet. 

 

On top of that, he had gone to the watchtower before dance club tonight to release his power on the roof, his favorite place for some solitude. To his relief, most students seemed to ignore or avoid the top of the tower, finding the cool air and long walk to reach it distasteful. Jungkook, on the other hand, found it to be the least suspicious place to unleash his frigid cold for as long as he needed to. It helped soothe the ache that fluttered within him when he was close to Taehyung so much. 

 

While Taehyung crawled around on his hands and knees, searching blindly for runaway chex cereal, Jungkook withdrew and strained his heated noodles, dumping them into a pan that wasn’t caked in burnt remains. He clicked on the burner, mixing the noodles with oils and spices, eventually adding Taehyung’s cut vegetables and meat to the sizzling mix. 

 

The blonde dumped the remainder of the cereal into the trash, brushing his dusty hands on his shirt before he froze at the sight of Jungkook standing over the oven.

 

“Jungkook… what’re you doing?” Taehyung approached to peer over his shoulder, his flowery scent wafting over Jungkook in the close proximity. The Winter was secretly pleased he had gotten a little more used to the lavender and chamomile Taehyung exuded lately, the tiny hints of vanilla subduing it just enough for him to push it out of his mind. It made his life just a tad more tolerable. 

 

“Saving your ass,” he torted with a grin. Decadent smells began to take the place of burnt ones in the kitchen while Jungkook prepared a poor man’s version of stir fry. Jin had taught him very well how to eat on a budget, and making the best use of cup noodles was at the top of his list. “Just promise you’ll let me have a little for my trouble.”

 

A flush slowly traveled up Taehyung’s cheeks, igniting a flame in his eyes that had Jungkook cocking his head to the side. Maybe he’s embarrassed I took over, Jungkook thought, eyeing the Spring curiously in his peripheral and preparing himself for his inevitable blue vision to sweep in. He tossed the food in the pan as Jin had instructed, thoroughly cooking each side of the contents.  

 

Taehyung stood by quietly as the smell of meat wafted through the air, only moving to pick up some of the mess he had created earlier. Jungkook found his silence rather jarring as worries crept into his mind. Had he overstepped by cooking in place of Taehyung?  Maybe Taehyung had wanted to cook for his dinner guest, and now he took that opportunity away without even asking? His confidence was slowly exchanged with nerves, palms cold against the steel of the pan. Why had he even been so quick to help Taehyung in the first place? 

 

Dumping sizeable helpings onto each plate Taehyung had set at the table, Jungkook distributed all but a small amount of the stir fry. He retrieved a third plate from the cabinet for his own smaller portion while Taehyung watched him, still frozen where he stood. 

 

At least it’s not exactly cup noodles tonight, Jungkook reassured himself as he withdrew a fork from the silverware drawer, closing it shut with his hip. Stomach growling audibly, he took a huge bite of his meal, groaning in pleasure as the mixtures of flavor hit his tongue. 

 

“So, when are they getting here?” Jungkook asked, voice muffled by his stuffed cheeks. Taehyung was still a deer in headlights, staring at him with wide eyes. It subtly reminded him of Jimin’s weird behavior earlier. 

 

Everyone is acting so bizarre tonight.  

 

Taehyung blanched. “W-When is who getting here?”

 

Mouth still full, Jungkook nodded towards the kitchen table where two full plates laid. Taehyung followed his motion slowly, lips parted as he turned his face back to Jungkook. The Spring’s mouth gently closed, pressing into a firm line for awhile before it opened again. 

 

“He’s here already.”

 

Jungkook’s eyebrows raised in surprise - he hadn’t remembered seeing anyone when he came in, although the smoke had been quite the distraction. He walked over to the kitchen doorway with plate still in hand, poking his head around the corner to see if he had missed anyone in Taehyung’s room, or maybe the bathroom, but it was just the two of them. Turning back to Taehyung with a question on his lips, he found the Spring covering his eyes with his palm, the darkest red he had seen on his face yet. 

 

Comforting heat slapped Jungkook with a ferocity he wasn’t prepared for, cascading down his body like a hot shower, as the unique vanilla-like scent assaulted his senses with an alarming fervor. He shivered, overwhelmed by Taehyung’s spike in power.

 

“Jungkook, I was making dinner for you.”

 

Mouth freezing mid bite, Jungkook blinked several times before his own cheeks began to warm. 

 

“What?” was all Jungkook could muster, swallowing a piece of chicken with difficulty. “W-why?” They were sort of friends now, but he had never asked, it had never been discussed. 

 

Taehyung finally dropped his hand from his eyes slowly, the green blazing with a violent intensity as he glanced around the room. “You’re always eating cup noodles,” he said quickly, stumbling over his words, “and I really wanted you to have something healthy because I don’t have any trouble affording it, and you’ve helped me so much lately with Overwatch that I- I just wanted to do something to repay you and I-”. He took a steadying breath, a pained look on his face. “I somehow fucked it all up and you ended up doing all the work anyway, I’m really sorry you had to come back to this mess and cook anyway when it was supposed to be a surprise and-”

 

“Taehyung.” 

 

Green, worried eyes locked to his while Jungkook pointed to the chair at the table, wordlessly instructing Taehyung to take a seat. Dumping the remains of his noodles onto the second plate, the Winter sat down across from him, resuming his eating in an attempt to fill the silence. 

 

When Taehyung eyed the plate in front of him warily, Jungkook picked up his extra fork and handed it over.

 

“Eat.”

 

The blonde looked at him with an unreadable veridian gaze, hesitating before gently taking the utensil from Jungkook. Slowly, he took small bites of the stir fry, only truly beginning to dig in after several minutes passed, stare not leaving his plate. 

 

Soothing heat continued to roll over Jungkook’s skin as he ate, unable to fight the feelings of contentedness that Taehyung exuded. Sharing a meal was apparently something the Spring really liked, although it puzzled Jungkook, since knew he better than anyone that he wasn’t the most talkative or interesting company. 

 

Taehyung had made a meal for him - well, tried to. Jungkook wasn’t sure why, but it made him feel the tiniest flicker of fondness. 

 

His roommate had somehow picked up on his growing distaste for the same cheap meal over and over. No one would have known nor cared enough about his eating habits, except maybe Jin had he been present. He was grateful someone noticed that hadn’t needed to, that someone thought about him for more than a passing moment. 

 

“Thank you.” 

 

Taehyung’s eyes met his again, their green flaring with what Jungkook guessed was surprise. His cheeks were stuffed an outrageous amount, and Jungkook had to fight off a smile at the ridiculous display. 

 

“You didn’t have to feed me, and don’t think you’re responsible for it from now on,” Jungkook explained. “But you thought of me enough to try. I don’t know if anyone has ever done that, well… aside from my chef friend who feeds basically everyone. So, thank you.” 

 

A small smile revealed itself on Taehyung’s face after he swallowed his mouthful, face still reddened as he shook his head. Jungkook watched his sparkly earring swing gently, blonde waves appearing soft as clouds. “Thank you for salvaging my piss poor attempt to cook.”

 

“I guess it’s acceptable, although it’s still cup noodles in the end,” Jungkook joked, drawing a low trail of baritone giggles from Taehyung. Relief whispered in his mind at seeing the Spring laugh, at seeing him digging into the food with renewed vigor.

 

Jungkook paused, swallowing the last of his plate while the gears in his mind seemed to stutter. Since when had Taehyung’s happiness become a source of relief for him? Admittedly, they had spent quite a bit of time together lately, but Jungkook wasn’t even sure if they had a friendship. How could he care about someone who he barely knew?

 

The confusing thoughts, enticing heat and full stomach were too much for Jungkook’s state of exhaustion. He just wanted to curl up in front of his computer, maybe play some games and forget about what he and Taehyung were. If what they had now was working, adding a label seemed pointless. 

 

Reaching to the end of the table as they finished their meal, Taehyung peeled back the plastic wrap on his cupcakes, their rainbow sprinkles scattering onto the plastic tray. After a few moments of careful contemplation, he grabbed a particularly colorful one, its vanilla frosting gently falling over the edge of its wrapper.

 

The blonde stared down at it before hesitantly handing it to Jungkook, glimmering eyes large and questioning. 

 

“Want to play some Overwatch after this?” 

 

Jungkook blinked at Taehyung, snorting as he gingerly took the cupcake from him, careful not to brush his fingertips. He admired the white frosting and speckled cake, floored that somehow Taehyung had known confetti and vanilla were his favorite. 

 

How the hell did Taehyung know him so well already when he felt like he barely knew the Spring at all?

 

If he really thought about it, he did know Taehyung a little. Jungkook knew what anime made him cry in the seventh grade (Inuyasha), how he liked his coffee (two scoops of caramel and skim) and what modern artists inspired him (he cried when he saw a Rothko in person). He didn’t know much about Taehyung’s past, or his future, or even what he was thinking right that second, but he knew Taehyung thought about him enough to cook him dinner, and knew his favorite cupcakes. That had to count for something. 

 

Maybe they were friends. Maybe they had become friends without Jungkook even knowing it. 

 

He took a bite of the cupcake, frosting and sprinkles sticking to his upper lip as he smiled. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

 

If it hadn’t already, maybe their friendship could start now.

 

~

 

Pacing along the flecked, shiny tiles of the department store, Jungkook was biting his lip as he struggled to commit to a decision. A wall of box sets towered before him, their glossy covers begging for purchase. He shook his head at himself, sarcastically thinking about what an exciting Friday night he was having as he agonized over buying a damn DVD set. 

 

The section in front of him was titled “Anime”, the pink plastic sign with white lettering swinging gently. Jungkook glared at it, finding it’s vague instruction utterly unhelpful. 

 

Taehyung had made him dinner three times in the past week since Jungkook had resurrected their first meal. He had tried to refuse them at first, feeling awfully indebted for the perplexingly kind gesture, but Taehyung had insisted, even to the point of threatening to throw Jungkook’s entire box of cup noodles out while he was sleeping. In fear, and.. well, because it smelled heavenly and he was a sucker for food, Jungkook had eventually relented and ate what was offered to him. 

 

Real food tasted amazing all on its own, but for some reason, it tasted even better when made by Taehyung. Jungkook wondered if maybe it was a side effect of the Springborne’s powers, but regardless, he was determined to enjoy every bit of it. 

 

And during their dinners, he and Taehyung had actually talked, even more so than they did during their usual game time. They swapped pointless stories of their childhoods, their favorites of anything they could think of, their preferences in music and their opinions on their classes. 

 

Their interactions had gone from something Jungkook planned and plotted around out of avoidance to something he didn’t mind, even maybe sort of enjoyed. 

 

Naturally, Jungkook had a problem letting a good deed like making him dinner repeatedly go unpaid, and he felt quite indebted to Taehyung at the moment, which is why he found himself currently shopping for a box set of one of Taehyung’s favorite series. 

 

Of course, that was the only reason why he was there. It wasn’t because he might have started to picture Taehyung’s happiness as something to look forward to, or anything. Yeah, his laugh was pretty nice, and his smile was okay too, and the attention they seemed to reserve solely for each other wasn’t all that bad. But that’s definitely not why he was there to get a gift. Not a chance. 

 

Cringing at the price tags, he held up two boxes to the light, both wildly different in color and design. Jungkook had seen the two shows previously and preferred the softer one over the more violent one, but he knew Taehyung loved both. The true question was which the blonde would appreciate more. He wasn’t keen on wasting his money on the less favored of the two. 

 

Why is anything having to do with Taehyung the biggest pain in the ass? 

 

Sighing, Jungkook pulled his phone from his jeans pocket, tapping until he reached his favorites list. He scrolled to Jimin’s name, pink hair of the selfie the Summerborne had assigned to the contact himself popping up on the screen. Jungkook put the phone to his ear, dial tone ringing three times before it was picked up. 

 

The sound of blaring bass and a crowd greeted him before he heard Jimin’s high pitched voice. 

 

“Hello?! Jungkookieeee, can you hear me?” 

 

Jungkook sighed again, pinching the bridge of his nose. Jimin was definitely clubbing, which meant Jimin was probably drunk. 

 

“Yes hyung, where are you right now?”

 

“We’re at Fusion a couple towns over with a bunch of old classmates!” The Summer giggled into the receiver, slurring some words here and there. 

 

“Jimin, are you drunk?” He raised his eyes to the fluorescent lights hanging from the tall ceiling of the store, squinting at their harsh brightness. “You have a DD right?” 

 

Jimin’s laugh tinkled endlessly, some unrecognizable words being spoken in the background. “Of course I’m drunk Jungkookie, who the hell do you think I am? It’s a Friday night, some of us live a little! And we’ll take a shuttle home, stop worrying you big baby.”

 

Jungkook exhaled a cold breath in relief. The last thing he needed was for Jimin to get caught partying too hard, a scene Jungkook has already watched play out a few times during their short time as friends. But Jimin was typically on top of knowing his limits. 

 

“So what can I do for you, hmm?” the Summer crooned into the phone, a staticky laugh sounding in the background behind him. 

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “I’m at the store, trying to pick out a box set for- for Taehyung and I want to know if he likes A-“

 

“Oh, Taehyungie?” Jimin drawled too loudly with a sly tone to his voice, cutting off Jungkook without a care in the world. “You need Taehyungie? Why don’t you ask him the question yourself? He’s right here.”

 

Jungkook froze, somewhat shocked by the thought of Taehyung willingly going out to any club. It was true that he didn’t know the Spring well enough to make that call, but still… pouty, whiny Taehyung at a crazy night club, probably decked out in ridiculous, expensive clothes and glittery makeup? 

 

His stomach flipped oddly at the thought, both disturbed and intrigued by the image the blonde on a dance floor, clothes likely tight around his perfect figure, sparkles on his cheeks, a dash of color on his pink lips-

 

“Jimineeeee, who is it?” A whine sounded through the speaker at the sound of the phone being passed, jolting Jungkook as he took in the familiar tone, its usual tenor warped by alcohol. 

 

“Taehyung?” he asked cautiously. 

 

A baritone giggle floated to his ears, sounding so wrecked that Jungkook felt his cheeks reddening. “Kookie, is that youuuu? Why are you calling Chimmy?” 

 

Jungkook coughed, his brain going haywire at the nickname as his flush deepened. He had tolerated ‘Kook’, and more recently ‘Jungkookie’, but letting ‘Kookie’ slide was a first. “Uh, have you been drinking?” 

 

The Spring laughed again. “Wellllll, you don’t go out with Jiminie if you don’t expect to get smashed!” he hiccuped. 

 

Jungkook shook his head. “You’re wasted.” He couldn’t believe he was standing in a cheap department store trying to buy a gift for his roommate, while that very person struggled to form a coherent sentence at some club. “You guys better be careful.”

 

Taehyung giggled again, and Jungkook had a hard time keeping a small smile off his face at the sound. 

 

“Kookie, baby, it’s fineeee. You worry like an old woman, stop it!”  

 

Jungkook nearly dropped his phone, smile falling instantly. Holy shit. Taehyung just called him baby. Kookie baby. His head was spinning, heat flooding him from head to toe.

 

“I’m having so much fun! I have Bogumie here with me too and it’s great! We were such good friends in undergrad, right Bogumie?” A muffled reply trickled in the background as Taehyung laughed wildly. “Hey, don’t do that, I told you none of that earlier,” the Spring whined playfully in protest, the sound of the phone being jostled evident. 

 

Paling, Jungkook pulled the phone closer to his face. “T-Taehyung, are you gonna be alright? Is Jimin with you?”

 

There was no answer, just the sound of music and laughter on the other end. He wished he could jump through the speaker just to see what was going on, to make sure his friends were safe. The thought of Taehyung wasted without Jimin to watch over him made him strangely anxious. 

 

“Taehyung?” he asked a final time, only for the phone to beep his ear. ‘Call Dropped’ greeted him on the screen in white lettering as he lowered it from his face. 

 

Jungkook leaned against the shelves of DVDs, resting his forehead on the painted metal while discontent settled in his gut. There was something sort of discomforting about Taehyung being in public, at a nightclub, so smashed that he referred to Jungkook as ‘baby’. Heat flooded Jungkook’s limbs again as he unwillingly replayed the intoxicated voice in his head, as if Taehyung was exuding his maximum power right next to him. The blonde had sounded downright alluring, maybe even seductive. 

 

Stop, stop, stop. He tried to steer his mind far away from the Springborne, remembering he was still in the stupid department store as his cheeks flushed bright red. 

 

Stupid Taehyung. Stupid, drunk Taehyung. What gave him the right to even exist? 

 

Jungkook felt like he needed a shot of whatever his roommate and friend were having. Maybe ten of them. 

 

Fuck it. Grabbing his favorite of the two box sets, Jungkook beelined for the self-checkout, eager to get the hell home, take a cold shower and possibly never leave his bed again. 

 

~

 

********

 

 

The hallway was dark and gloomy so close to midnight, Jungkook having arrived at his dorm after a pit stop at a fast food joint for a burger. The greasy food wasn’t for him, but for Taehyung tomorrow. He had an inkling the Spring would have a rough night ahead of him and would need to replenish his energy when the morning came. 

 

The door was unlocked, which he found mildly surprising, since he had expected Taehyung to be out till at least two, and he never left the door unlocked himself. 

 

Pushing it open quietly as he assumed his roommate was likely asleep, Jungkook was greeted by the soft, yellowed lights of Taehyung’s side. He blinked as his pupils adjusted to the dim lighting, trying to make out Taehyung’s figure. 

 

There was movement on the Spring’s bed, a smaller figure with their back to the dividing wall and another towering over him. 

 

Jungkook’s stomach dropped to the floor. Someone was here with Taehyung, in their shared dorm room, pressing him against the wall. He couldn’t exactly tell what they were doing, but it appeared close, intimate. At the very least, Jungkook saw the soft silhouettes were still clothed, but it didn’t bring him much comfort. 

 

They were too close, too intimate. 

 

The pair was definitely, undeniably making out. Hands were making their explorations, the taller figure doing most of the exploring. Afraid to even breathe, Jungkook tried to turn and leave without drawing attention to himself, heart pounding so hard in his chest he was afraid it might burst. 

 

A soft, low groan echoed through the room, and Jungkook froze mid-step. The sound sent sparks cascading down his spine like an electric shock.

 

A noise like that had come from Taehyung

 

He swallowed dryly, nausea and another unidentifiable burning sensation piling quickly in his gut. Lavender and lemon danced in the air, their aroma so thick that Jungkook almost had trouble breathing. 

 

“Jung-jungkookie, I-,” Taehyung whined breathlessly between tongue clashes.  

 

Heat slammed him with the strength of a truck as more shocks curled down his spine. Jungkook wanted to throw up, or maybe combust.

 

Shit. Taehyung still had to be clearly fucked up, at least to Jungkook’s ears, possibly even more so than he had been on the phone earlier. Especially if he was mistaking the guy for him, because he and Taehyung weren’t like that at all. They couldn’t even put a finger on one another, couldn’t do a thing. And even if they could, they wouldn’t be anyway. They were barely even friends.

 

Inexplicable anger swept through Jungkook with a suddenness that surprised even him. Something just didn’t seem right about the whole thing, to see Taehyung with someone he had never met or heard of… to even see Taehyung with anyone, their hands all over him, messing his pristine hair and shimmery cheeks. It was almost derogatory, as though someone walked through a museum, running their nails across ancient portraits and spitting on marbled sculptures. 

 

Seeing Taehyung like this pissed him off beyond belief, ice screaming in his veins for release as his fists clenched at his side. 

 

Jungkook bit the inside of his cheek. He had no right to be angry at Taehyung, except maybe for bringing a stranger to their room without letting him know ahead of time. They were barely even considered friends now, and even that was pushing it. Jungkook had absolutely no claim to him whatsoever beyond ‘roommate’ and maybe a ‘sort of friend of a friend’. He had no say in what, or who, Taehyung did in his spare time. 

 

A realization struck him that he had never even confirmed if Taehyung was single, not that he ever would need to anyway, but still. He had no reason to be shocked about this. None at all. 

 

So why did he feel like throwing up and freezing the guy with his hands all over Taehyung to death at the same time? 

 

The cold begged for release as Jungkook clutched at his chest, lemon and citrus tang in the air only accentuating the glaring sting beside his heart. The dull ache had quickly grown to approach agonizing levels as he watched their movements. He had falsely hoped that friendship with Taehyung would solve these painful moments as being near him sometimes did, that it might heal the growing pain he had endured by being at odds with the Spring for weeks. 

 

Maybe friendship had only made it worse. 

 

Clearly, Taehyung was fine without him. He wondered why the guy couldn’t have helped Taehyung with Overwatch instead of him, or if Taehyung had wanted to make the guy dinner. 

 

Taehyung was just fine without Jungkook. 

 

Turning to leave with rage prickling under his skin in the form of a smothered blizzard, Jungkook accidentally kicked the mirrored closet door, Taehyung’s discarded boots causing him to trip. His plastic bags of food and DVDs dropped onto the floor with a crash, their contents long forgotten. The noise was enough to alert the pair on the bed, their heads whipping to the entrance. 

 

Blazing blue drowned out the scene in a heartbeat, Jungkook’s eyes alight with a nightmarish intensity he rarely experienced. Half expecting to see Taehyung’s emerald green flare in return, he was unsettled that the Spring’s vision was dark.

 

Color was smeared across Taehyung’s swollen lips, the messed shimmer of his extra glittery cheekbones even apparent to Jungkook in the darkness. His blonde hair was disheveled and sticking out at different angles, his chest heaving as he caught his breath. The light cast shadows onto his pink blouse, it’s first few buttons undone, revealing sharp collarbones underneath. 

 

Confusion threaded through him at Taehyung's dim eyes. Jungkook had always experienced glowing eyes during his more… intimate moments, but Taehyung’s irises were as dark as the night through the wall of glass behind him. 

 

Maybe he and Taehyung weren’t as similar as he thought. 

 

Their eyes met for a heartbeat, pain evident in Taehyung’s shocked, glazed stare. The desire to comfort him whispered in Jungkook’s mind for a split second, but was instantly smothered by icy anger. 

 

Jungkook had never wanted to run away more in his life. 

 

“Wait! Jungkook!” He heard Taehyung yell drunkenly as he slammed the dorm door with force. He stomped his way down the stairwell, completely unaware of where his feet were taking him. Anywhere was fine, as long as he was far, far away from his room, far away from Taehyung. 

 

********

 

There was no logical reason to be as upset as he was - Jungkook was well aware of this. His rage had to have been caused by the combination of the awful scent and how invasive it felt to walk in on a stranger with his roommate in a space that was supposed to be shared, or how irresponsible Taehyung was acting being so drunk with some guy.

 

Yeah, that was definitely it. 

 

A group of students approached on the sidewalk, and Jungkook was forced to take a detour, only half aware of his surroundings. The cerulean light flowing from his eyes refused to extinguish as turmoil raged in his heart, glowing brilliantly in the darkness of night. He felt numb, both emotionally suffocated and ready to explode at any moment. 

 

Frosty puffs left Jungkook’s nose as he arrived at the campus watchtower, his feet having carried him there without him noticing. He was relieved to see it was blessedly devoid of other students, the interior dark except for the light of the moon. Taking the steps two at a time, he threw open the trap door to the apex of the tower, inhaling deeply as the cold breeze struck him with force. 

 

The railing grew frosty beneath his grip as Jungkook leaned over the side, frustration pounding through his skull. He prayed no one was nearby as a thick sheet of ice grew on the stone floor beneath him, the outdoor furniture becoming ice sculptures as they were slowly encased. His power nearly shook him with the force of its escape, a seemingly endless onslaught of winter sustained by his emotions. 

 

Images of Taehyung swam in his mind, even as he tried to push them away with all the force he could muster. A hazy aura with a thick scent, a flash of Taehyung’s hands curled into a stranger’s collared shirt, fingers running through his golden hair, soft sounds leaving his lips, it was wrong, it was all wrong- 

 

He flinched as a sharp crack snapped through the night air, a nearby glass table shattering beneath the arctic climate he emanated. Regret filled him at damaging school property, but it seemed terribly small compared to his current turmoil. 

 

Taehyung had looked ethereal, almost otherworldly in the dim lighting of their shared bedroom. Jungkook felt disgusted as he considered how the blonde had still managed to look so good, even with the wrecked expression on his face, his pupils blown wide. Everything about Taehyung’s physical presence was captivating, from his veridian eyes to his golden halo of hair, the shimmering earring beside his face, his dainty fingers and his soft-looking, glittery skin. 

 

What gave some guy the right to something so unattainable? 

 

Jungkook paused, halting his angry monologue. What gave him the right? 

 

He didn’t have any right to Taehyung, none at all. In fact, he had the least right out of almost anyone on the planet. One brush of fingers, one breath against Taehyung’s skin would severely harm them both, would cause hell and pain in more ways than one. 

 

A guttural laugh bubbled in Jungkook’s burning chest as he considered how pathetic he sounded. Here he was, thinking he had some kind of say about who Taehyung spent his time with when he was barely even his friend. Just because they spent a couple of nights or meals together didn’t make them anything more than acquaintances. In fact, he was last in line when it came to getting closer to his roommate. He physically couldn’t even get closer, couldn’t touch him even if he wanted to. 

 

Jungkook stuck his tongue in his cheek as the thought of running his own fingertips over Taehyung’s soft skin without causing destruction surfaced in his mind, as he recalled the way Taehyung had accidentally said his name. It was too satisfying of a thought for just an acquaintance, one that had him biting his lip and digging his nails into the icy railing he held, another layer of moisture crystalizing on it’s already frozen surface.

 

Honestly, he wasn’t sure of anything he felt right now. Everything felt hazy, confusing. 

 

Taehyung was the last person he should want, the last person he should dream of touching or holding or caring for. They were enemies, even if they were friends, and no amount of positive reinforcement could rewrite their DNA. 

 

With a frigid exhale, Jungkook did know at least one thing for certain: he wasn’t going back to that room tonight.

 

Fishing his phone from his pocket, Jungkook dialed the first number at the top of his contacts list, the entirely blue screen frosting over at his subzero touch. 

 

A tired voice greeted him at the other end, thick with sleep. “...Kook? That you?

 

“Hyung?” Jungkook cringed as his voice audibly cracked; it sounded exactly like he felt.

 

There was a pause before Namjoon spoke again, tiredness now absent from his voice. “Jungkook, what’s wrong?

 

He took a deep breath of night air, staring up at the stars as he begged for the answers that never came.

 

“I’m coming over.” 

 

~

 

“Are you ever going to answer that?”

 

Pot bubbling at the stove, Jin eyed Jungkook’s vibrating phone with annoyance while the Winterborne typed away on Namjoon’s laptop. The vibrations rang throughout the quiet kitchen again and again, grating against the flecked granite counter. Jungkook ignored them all. 

 

Several notifications later, Jin slammed his metal spoon down loudly, water droplets flying into the air. “Either turn the vibrate off or answer the damn thing, Jeon Jungkook, or I’m throwing it in with the potatoes.”

 

Sighing, Jungkook reluctantly reached for his phone, eyes turned away from the screen. Since Friday night, Jimin had taken to blowing him up with endless texts at all hours of the day. He had only read the first three or four, but there had to have been at least fifty unread messages by now. 

 

Namjoon and Jin had been gracious enough to let Jungkook crash in his old room for the last two nights, after he had showed up at their door at 3 AM, face haggard and eyes blazing. He was grateful to them for housing him, feeding him and even letting him use their electronics, and fortunately, he had left some older clothes in his old closet. The amenities made him comfortable enough to live away from the dorm for a few days. 

 

Most importantly, they hadn’t prodded or pried into what had gotten Jungkook so upset. He knew he owed them an explanation, but Jungkook could barely articulate why he was so distraught himself.

 

He had slept through most of Saturday, utterly fatigued after overdoing his release of power. Instead of letting it steadily drain from him in a healthy manner, he had lost control like an idiot and dumped it all in one go at the watchtower, causing him to feel like he got hit by nothing less than a freight train. Jungkook was surprised he had even made it a few towns over to their home before he nearly collapsed. 

 

Living with Namjoon and Jin had its perks in the past, and Jungkook felt spoiled as he indulged in Jin’s cooking again. Their house wasn’t too large or too small, and it was both clean and calm, a sanctuary of sorts for troubled minds like the one Jungkook had right now. Their living room had a comfy sectional couch, their kitchen had shiny, spotless counters, and their bathroom had an icy cold shower, essentially anything he could ask for. 

 

As comfortable as he was, Jungkook was surprised that he already missed his starry ceiling and wall of windows, his little microwave and his own bed. He missed his usual navy clothes, the water pressure of his shower head and the calming scenery of his campus. He really missed his gaming setup, opting to do some homework from Namjoon’s laptop while he had no access to games. 

 

But, out of everything, Jungkook was sure of one thing: he did not miss Taehyung. 

 

He had done a solid job over the last 48 hours to not let his thoughts stray towards the Springborne, since every time he did, he felt strangely sick to his stomach. So Jungkook had poured himself into a few art history papers that needed catching up on, after falling a bit behind due to playing so much with… due to playing so much Overwatch. If anything, it kept his mind distracted, since boredom seemed to only bring about the few things he’d prefer to forget about. 

 

The creak of the office door resounded in the kitchen, footsteps softly padding down the hallway a moment later. “Yes, I’ll send that fax over, just give me a few minutes and I’ll have it completed. Yes, thank you.” 

 

Namjoon ended his phone call, the Autumnborne all but collapsing into the seat beside Jungkook. He laid his head down on the cold counter, eyes closed as he huffed out a sigh. 

 

“Sorry, big case at work right now, they’re piling it on more and more every day,” Namjoon said exhaustedly. “I’ve been working thirteen, sometimes fourteen hour days this week.” Wincing, Jungkook felt bad for his friend. The lawyer was one of the most driven and brilliant individuals he knew, but he had a tendency to overwork himself. 

 

“You haven’t had anything to drink in hours, have you?” Jin asked with a sigh. Namjoon shook his head as Jungkook cocked an eyebrow. The Summer had to be really observant to see a small detail like that.

 

Jin shot Namjoon a knowing, sympathetic look, taking a pitcher from the fridge and pouring him a glass of iced tea. The Autumnborne took it with a small smile, heaving an exhale after taking a long gulp, as his boyfriend came around to the other side of the island. Jin rubbed his hands into Namjoon’s tense shoulders, working the kinks out of his neck in a well-practiced motion. The Autumn sagged in his touch, the tension visibly leaving him.

 

“Thanks,” Namjoon murmured after the brief massage, looking more relaxed than he had a few moments prior. 

 

His stilled fingers hovering over the laptop keys, Jungkook watched the exchange with rapt attention. For seemingly no reason it all, the interaction between his friends poked and prodded at the pain in his chest, as if to reopen the invisible wound from two nights before. 

 

Jin had seen something miniscule that even Jungkook had not, something insignificant that still meant a world of difference to Namjoon. Jin had cared enough to pay attention to the details, had spent enough time with Namjoon to know what he needed without words. 

 

Jungkook looked down at his pale hands atop the keyboard, the colors in the room slowly cloaking themselves in a shadow of blue. Everything seemed so obvious now, the answer plainly evident in his heart. 

 

The explanation he needed was longing.

 

Jungkook longed for someone to see him, all of him, for who he was. The tiniest details, like his favorite foods to what made him tick, maybe noticing when he was exhausted or appreciating the things he loved, he longed for it all. He longed for someone to look at him as if he were more than just a pure Winterborne, or a simple art student, or a former friend. He simply wanted, needed to share the buried parts of himself with someone who wouldn’t run away, who understood his abilities. Someone who wasn’t temporary. 

 

Hurt lanced Jungkook’s chest as he realized he had unintentionally started sharing tiny parts of himself with Taehyung, how he had thought Taehyung might be one of the few to see him for who he was. This had all started and ended with Taehyung.

 

Obviously, it hadn’t been a mutual need. 

 

“Jungkook? What’s wrong?”

 

Namjoon and Jin stared at him with wide eyes as they observed his blue glow, both familiar with what it signified. 

 

“Something happened,” he started softly, “with Taehyung. And with me.”

 

The couple knew of Jungkook’s hairy relationship with his roommate, but they hadn’t been made aware of any details or progress between them. 

 

With a shaky breath, Jungkook launched into a recap of his last few weeks with Taehyung, Jin eventually taking a seat across from him and Namjoon to periodically stir the boiling potatoes. Jungkook told them of anime night, of their conversations about different shows and of their mutual interests, and how Taehyung’s irritating habits seemed to disappear overnight. He told them of Taehyung’s constant insistence on playing Overwatch together, of how he coached Taehyung almost every night recently, even getting coaxed onto the other side of the room. 

 

“And then he started making me dinner sometimes and-“

 

“Wait, wait, hold the phone,” Jin interrupted. “You’re telling me that he just randomly started making you dinner, without you asking? After asking you to play games every night with him?”

 

Jungkook nodded slowly in confirmation. “I came home one day and he was burning the place to the ground, so I actually ended up making the first dinner. I thought it was for someone else, but it was for me. Taehyung said he felt bad I kept eating poorly, please don’t kill me,” he winced at Jin’s livid glare before continuing, “and that he wanted to repay me for helping him with games. He even made me cupcakes.” 

 

Frowning, Jungkook felt a twinge of pain at the memory. Had it been wrong of him to feel sort of special that day after being cared for? Was he out of line in thinking that Taehyung did that especially for him?

 

Jin’s face grew into a smirk at the mention of the sweets. “...Cupcakes. Keep going.”

 

So Jungkook told them of their several dinners together, usually talking casually about their likes and dislikes. He told them about his plan to pay Taehyung back with his favorite DVD set, and how he had heard Jimin and Taehyung wasted at the club on the phone, and how he had gone back to his room and…

 

“I came back to the dorm.” His teeth gritted as the scene replayed in his head, blue eyes flaring. “Taehyung was still smashed. A guy I don’t know was… with him. Clothes on but had I been a few minutes later, I don’t know....”

 

Namjoon raised his eyebrows while Jin released a long whistle.

 

Groaning, Jungkook dropped his head to the granite, hiding behind his arms. “I don’t even know if we are or were friends, it’s just so easy to get sucked into doing shit with him. I don’t even know who I am around Taehyung half the time.” Jungkook bit at his lip. “I’m an idiot. He’s a pure Springborne. We’re supposed to be… enemies and whatever. He should hate me.” 

 

“Jungkookie, I’m gonna be honest here,” Jin started, eyeing Jungkook warily. “First of all, only you can determine who your enemies are. Even with the side effects, hating you is unlikely, you’re about as ferocious as a bunny.”

 

Jungkook rolled his eyes, head still on the counter while Namjoon snorted beside him. 

 

“As for Taehyung, it sounds to me like he made a mistake. And that you’re making excuses for him instead of letting him own up to it.”

 

Jin sighed when Jungkook didn’t lift his head. “Let me tell you something. When Joon and I started talking, both of us made some mistakes too.” He smirked at Namjoon, who rolled his dark eyes in response. “Genius Joonie here was concerned that he didn’t even like guys, and so he ditched me for a girl right when things were finally getting good.”

 

Jungkook’s head snapped up in shock, looking from Namjoon to Jin with his mouth agape. “Wait… really?” He had trouble seeing the relationship between his two friends be anything other than written in the stars. 

 

“Let’s just say he told me he never wanted to see my ‘stupid, ugly fucking face ever again, in this lifetime and the next,’” Namjoon said, scratching the back of his head. Jin laughed loudly, his squeak bringing the tiniest of smiles to Jungkook’s face. 

 

“Yeah, I made a huge mistake. I thought I was going to hurt myself, but more importantly, I thought I would hurt Jin with my own insecurities,” Namjoon explained. “But instead, I made a decision that did more harm to both of us that was rooted in my own fear. I learned from that, owned up to it, and worked hard to show I recognized what I did.” 

 

Jin nodded, a gentle smile on his face as he gazed at Namjoon with fondness. “And a lot of alcohol was involved. Not that it’s a good excuse, but it definitely didn’t help things.”

 

Jungkook thought briefly that alcohol definitely hadn’t helped Taehyung on Friday. 

 

Jin poured Jungkook a glass of iced tea, sliding it to him across the counter. “Look, Jungkookie. From what you’ve told me tonight, I think Taehyung does care about you, maybe even a little more than you give him credit for.” Jin smiled, wiggling his eyebrows while Jungkook blushed as he pretended not to hear. “I just think he made a poor decision. I don’t think you should absolve him from it without an apology, but I don’t think he did it to hurt you. You guys can work through this. I’m sure there’s been a time in the last two months that you did something stupid to him, and yet you’re still friends.”

 

Sighing, Jungkook rubbed circles into his temples. He still wanted to throttle Taehyung for his disregard for safety, but Jin had a point. He had been clouded by his emotions after seeing Taehyung that way. His roommate had undeniably screwed up, but it didn’t mean their newly formed friendship had to be over already. 

 

“You should check your texts, Jungkook,” Namjoon said, eyeing his silent phone as if he could see the onslaught of messages pouring through. “You said you’re close with Taehyung’s best friend. I bet he has an explanation for you.”

 

Jungkook grimaced. He’d have to deal with the texts soon, as much as he’d prefer not to. Jimin didn’t deserve the silent treatment. Whatever happened with Taehyung, Jungkook was not about to let go of his friendship with Jimin. 

 

Truthfully, he wanted Taehyung to admit he was wrong. He wanted to hear it was a mistake, to know his feelings weren’t misguided, that the companionship he had barely tasted was mutual.

 

He ignored the practical voice that told him Taehyung had the right to do what he did and still be friends with Jungkook. He knew his emotions were clouding his judgement, but couldn’t picture the two scenarios clearly beside each other anymore. 

 

Was what he wanted from Taehyung included in everyone’s definition of ‘friendship’? Biting his lip, Jungkook thought he wasn’t so sure. He barely knew what he wanted in the first place. Everything still felt hazy, uncertain. 

 

“But… hyung,” he said softly, eyes glued to the shimmering flecks in the granite below him, the overhead lights reflecting onto the shiny surface. “What do I do if it wasn’t a mistake?” 

 

Jin took a deep breath, pursing his lips as he seemed to think deeply. 

 

“At that point,” Jin responded with a comically evil grin, causing Namjoon to snort softly, “you tell him to fuck off, or I will.”

 

~

 

[Jimine]
Saturday - 3:24 AM
hey, tae just called me freaking out and i have no clue what the hell he said, still kinda tipsy lol
what happened?
guessing you’re up with him
sorry, he went a little overboard tonight

Saturday - 3:50 AM
are you not actually with tae?
i swear to god if youre sleeping through this…
there’s no way

Saturday - 3:55 AM
im coming over

Saturday - 4:36 AM
jungkook, answer the damn phone
i can see you hitting decline
omg stop being such a baby

Saturday - 4:56 AM
are you coming back?
please tell me you are

Saturday - 5:01 AM
i’m here with tae, he’s upset
won’t tell me why and it’s kinda freaking me out

Saturday - 5:52 AM
he’s sorry, Jungkook.
he’s been drunk all night and he wont stop saying it.
he told me what happened
that you came here and left

Saturday - 5:57 AM
im also sorry i let him and Bogum out of my sight too long
i want to strangle that shithead
he was only supposed to drop tae off…
it wasn’t what you think. that’s all ill say
if it makes you feel better, tae threw him out when you left
anyway hes sorry
please hurry back so we can sort this out
he has a lot to say to you

Saturday 12:18 PM
so are you ever going to come back
or are you gonna sulk for the rest of your life?

Saturday 2:47 PM
wtf are these dvds in the doorway?
and a cheeseburger…?

Saturday 2:49 PM
oHHHHHH oh god the DVDs
this is what you called me about i think.
and the food…
………….shit jungkookie
are you this whipped already?

Saturday 2:54 PM
… i didnt mean that pls dont block me

Saturday 7:49 PM
can you stop ignoring me now?
idk how many times i gotta tell you but hes sorry

Saturday 10:28 PM
where the fuck are you? this is getting old

Saturday 11:20 PM
okay, if you hate taehyung this much, can you at least hear him out before vanishing off the earth?
he actually cried because he felt so bad
he’s going thru enough shit w/o your tantrum
stop being heartless you literal coldhearted icy mf
thanks

Sunday 1:32 AM
alright,
you
forced
my
hand
jeon
jungkook
thank me later~ 

 

[unknown number]
Sunday 1:56 PM
hey..
it’s taehyung!
jimin gave me your number
i hope that’s alright
just wanted to see if everythings okay and stuff since you aren’t here this weekend!

Sunday 3:43 PM
I’m sure youre busy so you might not see this
but were you thinking of coming back tonight?
i can make us dinner! :3
curry since its your favorite?!?

Sunday 7:12 PM
hey!
i double checked with chimmy just to make sure this is your number haha
i made curry, it’s reallyyyyy delicious!!!
look at this brilliant creation
*attachment - pic of bowl of curry*
hurry back, i’ll save some for you!~

Saturday 9:07 PM
did you see the new OW character that’s coming out?! i’m super excited!
you’ll have to help me learn her since im garbage haha
let’s play sometime this week?

Sunday 11:27 PM
jungkook
i get it, okay?
i’m sorry

 

~

 

Fingers fiddling with the lock mechanism, Jungkook felt incredibly nervous as he busied himself with removing his seatbelt. 

 

“Hyung,” Jungkook called to Namjoon. The Autumn turned to him from the driver’s seat, a questioning look on his face in the darkness. 

 

Jungkook wanted to stay another night at Namjoon’s and Jin’s, but Jin told him it’d be a good idea to sleep in his own bed before classes began, an indirect way of telling him to swallow his own pride and deal with the conflict that awaited him. 

 

Which meant he’d have to face Taehyung, something he was dreading, especially after the texts that had nearly made him throw his phone out the window. 

 

“I didn’t mention this to you earlier, but there’s something… weird about Taehyung and I,” he explained, face reddening. “Since I’ve met him, he’s always had the most unbelievably strong scent I’ve ever been around. I don’t mean like cologne, I mean suffocating. When he’s happy, I can almost feel it, like- like it transfers to me in the form of heat. The scent somehow… changes when he does. Like it’s amazing for me when he’s happy.”

 

Namjoon’s brow furrowed. “Odd. That’s not really… normal. I mean, even for the purest of seasons, I’ve never heard of that. No one’s scent should be that strong.” 

 

“I know, hyung,” Jungkook gulped. “Also, when one of us glows, it’s like the other has to as well. Whenever I see it, it’s almost physically impossible not to. Even with the meditation, or emptying my power as much as I can, it still happens.” He took a steadying breath. “I thought it was the interaction between pure seasons, but this seems sort of abnormal. It’s like a pull. I don’t know what to think of it.” 

 

The Autumnborne seemed deep in thought, a hand resting on his chin. 

 

“Jungkook,” he said with a serious tone, catching Jungkook off guard. “Have you ever heard of the seasonal princes?”

 

The Winterborne thought for a long moment before he shook his head. “No, though it sounds a little familiar, maybe something from a kids’ story?”

 

With a deep breath, Namjoon cast his eyes to the ceiling. It was unlike him to be so fidgety. “It’s just a myth, but…” His hands flexed over the steering wheel, knuckles bunching and tightening. 

 

His friend shook his head. “You should go to Taehyung now and work things out. I’ll tell it to you another time. Don’t worry about it, focus on fixing things.” 

 

Cocking his head to the side in a small motion, Jungkook pursed his lips. He wanted to argue to stay and hear the explanation, but something about Namjoon’s hesitance gave him an inkling of worry, and he had enough on his plate at the moment as it was. 

 

“A-alright.” He still fiddled with the seatbelt, glaring up at his dorm building and utterly dreading the confrontation to come. 

 

A hand lightly held his arm, Namjoon providing a steadying touch. “It’s going to be fine, Kook. Don’t overthink this. Do what your heart tells you and ignore your brain for once. You don’t listen to it enough.” 

 

~

 

[Taehyung]
Saturday 11:56 PM 
i fucked everything up
i know you hate me
and this is all my fault
but if you’re moving out can we at least talk first?
please

Chapter Text

The room was dark when Jungkook entered his dorm, the only lights being a small, white square from the phone on Taehyung’s bed and the speckled yellow of street lamps through the window wall. Nerves swam in his gut when he saw the blonde curled up and unmoving, the silence blanketing the space unsettling. 

 

The soft thump of the heavy door shutting made the figure jolt into a sitting position. His head snapped to Jungkook, mouth parted and eyes wide in surprise. 

 

Jungkook bit the inside of his cheek as he observed his roommate’s darkened features. Taehyung looked like complete shit. 

 

His golden nest of tangled locks seemed sullen and dreary and the usual color was missing from his face. Dark rings sagged under his tired eyes, their sparkle dulled and empty. Jungkook felt a pinch of guilt when he saw Taehyung even looked a little thinner than usual, his sharpened jawline more prominent than before. Even his usual earrings were missing.

 

Had his absence really upset Taehyung this much? 

 

In a heartbeat, Taehyung’s eyes brightened to an incredible emerald that had Jungkook almost staggering where he stood. The response of his own blue fire was so immediate, so overwhelming that it seemed to rush to meet Taehyung’s with force. Jungkook was mystified by the interaction - it was as though Taehyung’s glow had almost suffered during the separation, forcing it’s reach into his heart, gripping the flame of his power and pulling it greedily from him against his will. The pair sparkled in the darkness, their eyes the brightest lights in the room. 

 

“J-Jungkook,” he said hoarsely. “You came back.”

 

The quiet words seemed thunderous in the heavy silence. Jungkook swallowed thickly, his courage having fled him as soon as he opened the door. He inhaled deeply, unsure of how he should begin, only aware of the overwhelming need to hear Taehyung’s deep voice paired with the flare of his eyes. 

 

What had he even planned to say? He couldn’t remember anymore.

 

“Taehyung-”

 

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Jungkook.”

 

The Springborne bit his lip, his stare breaking to linger on the plush purple carpet beside his bed. The loss of eye contact felt like the snap of a rubber band inside Jungkook’s head. “I know I freaked you out. I made a bad decision. It’s- it’s no excuse, but I was so drunk I could barely even see straight, nonetheless actually think straight.” Taehyung curled his knees to his chest as he spoke, wrapping his arms around them as if to make himself smaller.

 

He thought his anger had been exhausted over the weekend, but Jungkook was surprised to find he still found the embers of frustration smouldering in his heart, although for a different reason. Taehyung had been stupid to drink as carelessly as he did, but the douchebag who took advantage of his vulnerability was the one at fault here. Jungkook knew someone touching Taehyung shouldn’t piss him off so much, but it did; it infuriated him.

 

And Jungkook had left him. Guilt had nearly suffocated him when he originally read Jimin’s text about how Bogum was not actually supposed to be at the room, how he didn’t have consent to touch Taehyung. Jungkook had left Taehyung to the dogs. He wasn’t sure if there’s anything he regretted more.  

 

“I’m so sor-“

 

“I know it’s already hard enough for you to share this space with me and you’re still kind to me.”

 

Hold on, it’s not about me, Jungkook wanted to argue. He wanted to tell him it wasn’t as hard as it once was to share a room anymore, that he’d probably even be disappointed if Taehyung hadn’t ended up as his roommate in the end. 

 

“And yet I still let a stranger come in here and invade your privacy when you didn’t deserve that. I shouldn’t have gotten as drunk as I did. It was honestly dumb of me to put myself in that position, especially with- with Bogum. He’s such a prick. I reported him, fyi.”

 

At the breaking of Taehyung’s voice, Jungkook felt the anger slowly drain from him, relieved that he had taken action against Bogum. But a frown remained on his face - there was still an uncomfortable sensation swirling in him at the thought of a predator with his hands on Taehyung, something more powerful than simple anger and a lot closer to his heart.

 

“I know I’ve been forcing this friendship on you,” Taehyung said softly, fiddling with his frayed bracelets as a shadow of guilt crossed his features. “I keep bullying you into spending time with me when there are about a million better things you could be doing.”

 

Wait...what? That’s not... Jungkook’s brow furrowed as he cocked his head to the side, completely taken off guard by the direction the conversation was travelling in

 

“No, Tae-”

 

“Don’t worry, I understand, you don’t have to explain it to me.” The Spring smiled wistfully at the ground, lemony scent spiking in the air. “I get it.”

 

Jungkook’s stomach lurched when he saw Taehyung’s green eyes blur with tears, unable to stop his legs from stepping forward by their own accord. “But I-”

 

“I already talked to Jimin. He’s okay with me coming to live temporarily in his room until the end of the semester when I can move off campus.”

 

“What...? No-”

 

“You really don’t deserve to be miserable all the time, Jungkook. You were right the first day I moved in, you don’t need my drama. It’s been selfish of me to stay here so long just because of my own issues. And now I’m just bringing them to the room anyway.” 

 

“Can you please-“

 

“I- I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t come back when you did. God, I’m so stupid,” he chuckled wetly. “All I seem to do is fuck everything up-”

 

Taehyung!

 

The Spring snapped his head up at Jungkook’s loud, commanding tone, blazing eyes wet and wide as he inhaled sharply at the Winter’s sudden proximity.  

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure when he had walked across the room.

 

He wasn’t sure when he had found the courage to lift his hand to Taehyung’s face, the tiniest bit of open air between his palm and Taehyung’s tear-streaked, dulled cheek.

 

He wasn’t sure when he had stopped breathing or when he had began to shake, or when he had started to appreciate the tiniest curves of Taehyung’s features, or the mole along his lower eyelid, or the bow of his parted lips. 

 

And he definitely wasn’t sure when he had decided how much he liked looking at Taehyung, or how he somehow now preferred being near Taehyung instead of being away from him. He wasn’t sure why the Spring’s presence softened him so much, or why he felt like the only human on the planet when Taehyung’s emerald flare locked onto him. 

 

But he was sure of at least one thing: he and Taehyung were magnets. Sometimes, they were turned just right in order to attract, even when they both tried to resist, like Jungkook felt right now. And sometimes, they were flipped around, so polarized that they repelled the other’s existence, even when they wanted to be together.

 

The gap between his hand and Taehyung’s smooth, tanned skin felt like the span of a universe between them. Jungkook trembled with the desire to comfort and protect him, to have him lean just one more centimeter into his palm, both fearful and excited as he visualized it happening before him with vivid clarity. The thought of Taehyung being taken advantage of upset him to such a degree that he needed to share what words couldn’t say, to speak a language of contact they hadn’t been able to utilize yet. But their damn seasons...

 

Jungkook’s azure eyes flicked around to different points of Taehyung’s features, desperate for a hole of some sort in the wall nature had forced between them. His gaze hesitated for a few moments on the dulled mess of blonde atop his head as he contemplated his next action, nerves roiling in his gut. 

 

Namjoon’s words rang in his head, instructing him to forget his logic and listen to his heart. He bit his lip, tension rolling off of him as he slowly withdrew his hand where it hovered beside Taehyung’s cheek, only to approach the top of his head.  

 

With extreme care to avoid brushing his scalp, Jungkook ran his fingers through the ends of Taehyung’s golden locks.

 

Touching his hair felt like threading his fingers through hot sand, or slowly sweeping them through a silky, warm bath. It felt even better than Jungkook had ever imagined, the sensation tingling through him with tiny pins of pleasure. Taehyung’s hair had to have been made of sunlight, the strands glistening as he untangled snarls with the utmost gentleness. The texture was so soft that it took all of his willpower not to press down and make contact, and Jungkook found himself thinking that he could easily stroke Taehyung’s hair for hours, given the chance.

 

His roommate stared up at him in shock as Jungkook threaded through his hair, nearly frozen where he sat atop his cream comforter. After a few long moments, Taehyung seemed to slowly give in to the repetitive motion as his eyelids fluttered shut, green flame extinguished in the darkness for a breath. Tears ran from the corners of his eyes while Jungkook stood beside him quietly, continuing his caress with carefulness. They didn’t speak, the new territory being breached enough of a significance to drown out all need for conversation. 

 

Taehyung was careful not to move so Jungkook’s hands wouldn’t accidentally brush against him, his posture firm but relaxed. Heat ran down every inch of Jungkook’s skin as the Spring’s breathing slowly calmed under his tender touch, and his heart beat wildly when the resulting soothing warmth greeted him. It occurred to him how much he had actually feared never experiencing Taehyung’s enticing aura again had their friendship deteriorated. There was nothing like it in the world, nothing could replace it. The thought was so unpleasant, he refused to even consider it.  

 

Their silence was disrupted when Taehyung sniffled, the sudden noise causing Jungkook to jolt and quickly lift his hand away, nervous of burning Taehyung and ruining the moment.  

 

Taehyung’s eyes opened, staring at Jungkook questioningly and, to Jungkook’s amusement, almost accusingly as the petting ceased. Stray tears still rolled down his cheeks, their cascade slowing but still strong  enough to make Jungkook frown. 

 

The Winter swallowed audibly as Namjoon’s words to follow his instinct ricocheted inside his head yet again. He bunched the sleeve of his cobalt sweatshirt so it fell over his palm, staring at it with a burning blue intensity. I’m blaming you if this goes to shit, Joon.  

 

Embarrassment would have paralyzed him long ago in any other situation, but Taehyung’s all-encompassing aura seemed to fill him with a newfound confidence.

 

It was taking a chance, but it would be enough, right?

 

Dropping down on a knee before Taehyung, Jungkook slowly reached forward, the Spring’s large, illuminated stare watching his every move with laser precision. He was sure Taehyung stopped breathing when his sleeve made contact with his cheek, brushing away the tears that lingered there with the softest touch. It felt like he had laid his hand on a hot stove with an oven mitt on, the sweltering heat evident through the material, but not enough to burn. 

 

It’s working. Jungkook revealed his toothiest smile as elation filled him. It’s actually working.

 

Taehyung - he was touching Taehyung, Springborne Taehyung, someone who he hadn’t realized he needed or wanted to touch until just a few moments ago. With the material between their contrasting skin, he was still able to convey touch and contact, his heart beating wildly in his chest. Of course it wasn’t ideal, but it was enough, at least for right now. Like a piece had fallen into a place he hadn’t known needed filling. 

 

A luscious vanilla scent doused Jungkook almost immediately. Taehyung slowly broke from his open-mouthed daze, his head leaning into Jungkook’s clothed palm. A smile finally touched his lips, the tiniest giggle eventually sounding from deep in his throat while his tears were wiped away, and Jungkook found it too easy to huff amusedly in response. 

 

Things were okay. They were better than okay, in fact. 

 

Touching Taehyung, as terrifying as it was, soothed the ache in his chest to an alarming degree. It didn’t matter if Taehyung wasn’t on the same exact wavelength or probably not enjoying it as much as Jungkook was, but they had this moment. 

 

It was enough. 

 

Though feeling like he was up in the clouds, a small voice in the back of Jungkook’s head reminded him that they needed to talk before their conflict was truly resolved. 

 

“Taehyung,” he started, voice so gentle it surprised even him. “I’m not angry anymore. I hate that someone tried to hurt you. I’m just glad you’re safe.” He flattened his palm, thumbing the cotton over Taehyung’s tanned skin in a repetitive motion. “I made a big deal out of nothing and I’ve mostly been confused. More confused than I’ve ever been, to be honest, but I still shouldn’t have ignored you. I also shouldn’t have left you that night, I’m so sorry,” his voice broke, wavering under the sea of overflowing emotion in his gut. “And you’re not stupid, so please don’t say ridiculous shit like that anymore.” 

 

Taehyung stared at Jungkook with a glow strong enough to pierce him, stunned by his words. A deep blush crept onto his cheeks, causing Jungkook to smile in relief. Taehyung wasn’t himself without color on his face; a pale, withered Taehyung seemed like something against the laws of nature. 

 

“So… I don’t need to move out?” 

 

Jungkook snorted, reluctantly withdrawing his prickling hand to rest on his bent knee. “This is your home too.” Taehyung’s eyes sparkled at the words. “I’m not going to throw you out, unless you want to leave.” 

 

The blonde shook his head with a small smile, relief evident in his expression. “No, I really don’t.” 

 

Jungkook slowly stood up, a little surprised at how woozy he had become, attributing it to the heat and scent Taehyung poured into the environment. He swore he had never smelled or felt anything like Taehyung’s strange aura, as if the cells in his body were drawn to it like a moth to a flame. His cold slept peacefully in his chest, the usual ache that lay there subdued to a minimal twinge. 

 

Reality hit him quickly as he looked down at Taehyung’s now orderly blonde locks. Jungkook just pet Taehyung, ran his fingers through his hair and basically caressed his cheek. He had been almost affectionate with him and... enjoyed it. Red exploded on his skin at the thought, the delayed embarrassment catching up with him as his breath caught in his throat.

 

What the hell am I doing?

 

His roommate climbed from the bed to plug in his string lights. A soft, yellowed glow illuminated the room, and Taehyung padded over to his desk, staring down at the forms on top of it. 

 

“Jiminie found this in a bag by the door on Saturday,” Taehyung said softly, turning to him and holding a box under the light. “This is my favorite series of all time,” he murmured, bright green gaze flicking up to Jungkook’s. “Did you buy this?”

 

Clearing his throat, Jungkook mentally backpedaled at the sight of the box set. He had been prepared to handle the confrontation with Taehyung, but completely forgot about the gift. The night he bought it felt like a lifetime ago. He had no clue how to even give a gift to Taehyung in the first place. How did friends give friends gifts who they had just made cry and then affectionately stroked their cheek?  

 

Actually, how should he interact with Taehyung at all anymore? 

 

“It, uh-“ he stuttered, change in topic feeling like whiplash. “It was just to pay you back, for um, you know, making me dinner all the time and stuff.” Frustratingly enough, his earlier confidence was nowhere to be found.

 

Despite his awkwardness, Jungkook was nearly blinded by the boxy smile Taehyung sent him, his vanilla scent so strong it almost felt like he could consume it. “I can’t believe you remembered how much I loved this one! You really didn’t need to, but thanks so much Kookie!” 

 

Jungkook blushed harder at the nickname, still adjusting to allowing its use. He supposed Taehyung could have the sole rights, for now. 

 

Taehyung excitedly tore into the plastic wrap, pulling the DVD cases from their box to inspect them with overwhelming enthusiasm. “Want to watch a few episodes tonight? I still have left over curry, we can have some together?” 

 

Alarm bells ringing, his head told him to back off, to reset their relationship, to take a practical stance and analyze it before making a move, to put some distance between them. 

 

Things are okay, Jungkook reminded himself. Go with your heart, not your head. 

 

His heart seemed to only have room for one thing lately: a certain pain in the ass named Kim Taehyung.

 

Jungkook felt all the adrenaline of freefalling as he nodded with a small smile, happiness and contentment finding their home around him as Taehyung beamed at him once again.

 

~

 

“Please, please, please,” Hoseok whined, his red eyes large and round above the pout on his lips while he tugged at Jimin’s sleeve like a child. “Please come to the party? Three of my friends already had to bail and I already ordered like fifteen pizzas! I have a truckload of liquor in my kitchen, pleaseeeee Jiminie.”

 

Breathing heavily, Jungkook wiped the cold droplets from his forehead with a towel. The routine he and Jimin were learning was killer, his muscles aching in places he didn’t even know could hurt. They were both making good progress, but Jungkook knew their natures were to work hard until they surpassed perfection, which unfortunately meant pushing their bodies to the point of collapsing. 

 

“I don’t know, Hobi-hyung. I was supposed to see Yoongi-“

 

“Bring him!” Hoseok exclaimed. “Bring as many people as you can, honestly. Both of you.”

 

Jungkook raised his eyebrows as Hoseok addressed him. “You know I’m not a big partier, why should I come?” Loud music and drinking were fine, but socializing with a bunch of people he didn’t know sounded downright awful. 

 

Jimin scoffed, bumping his hip against Jungkook’s. “C’mon Jungkookie, you should act like a young adult for once. You and I can take on the scene.” He shot him a mischievous smile. “I’ll even supplement your wardrobe.” 

 

“I don’t need your help with my wardrobe, thanks,” Jungkook said sarcastically. He was an adult and dressed himself just fine for a budget. In fact, sometimes he thought he looked mildly attractive. So what that his closet was only blues, greys and blacks? 

 

Jimin rolled his eyes. “Okay, wannabe scene kid.” 

 

Before he could strangle Jimin, Jungkook found hands gripping at his, Hobi’s red eyes wide and pleading in front of him. “Does that mean you’ll go?! Please, Jungkookie! I’ll even tell Chia to extend that deadline for your project, she loves me!” 

 

Rolling his eyes to the side, Jungkook heaved a heavy sigh. He really hated being surrounded by a crowd of people, but Hoseok had been nothing but nice to him so far and he was in peak condition from his class. And Professor Chia had assigned a monstrous infographics assignment that had Jungkook’s head spinning with pie charts, it’s deadline creeping up on him with murderous intent. Getting that moved would make his weekend a lot more relaxing and free up some valuable time. 

 

Plus, it wouldn’t kill him to go out at least one night. 

 

“Seriously, bring anyone you want. Just tell me you'll come,” Hoseok whined with a pout. 

 

Anyone? 

 

Jungkook thought of the few people that might make his time a little more tolerable no matter where he went. One was in the room with him and already attending, the pink haired man sending a barrage of texts beside him, likely to Yoongi. The two others were probably at their home, hopefully not working.

 

And, maybe… 

 

“Fine, fine,” he relented exhaustedly. “But don’t expect me to stay long or get wasted or anything like that. I have homework to do and I’m super behind.”

 

Hoseok squealed, quickly throwing his arms around Jungkook, only to remove them and give Jimin the same treatment. “I promise it’ll be fun, trust in your hyung,” he said excitedly, toothy smile as radiant as always. 

 

Jimin looked to Jungkook with a shrug. He could practically hear him saying ‘how bad could it be?’

 

Sighing, he pulled his phone from his pocket. The soft clicks of his keyboard rang throughout the practice room as Jungkook typed a quick message to his group chat with Jin and Namjoon, begging them to come to the party last minute. He didn’t doubt Hoseok could show them a good time, but it probably wasn’t anything Jungkook would actively choose to be a part of willingly, and he’d need to supplement as many comfortable relationships around him as possible to function.

 

And as he hesitantly watched the red-haired Summerborne talk Jimin’s ear off about some sort of beer bong, Jungkook cast his eyes to the ceiling and prayed getting his deadline shifted would be worth it. 

 

~

 

The dorm was vacant after practice, the quietness unusual compared to their typical noise. Taehyung was normally home around this time. 

 

Things had been relatively normal between the Spring and Winterborne in the two weeks since their confrontation, their joint activities still taking place when they had the opportunity, including dinner and gaming together. Their conversations had turned from casual into hours of laughs, sometimes even resulting in their own inside jokes, or in-depth topics that had them ranting late into the night. 

 

Despite the positive air between them, they hadn’t touched since the day they had made up, keeping plenty of space between one another. Occasionally, Jungkook found himself itching to touch Taehyung’s hair again, or to brush his clothed hands over the Spring’s wrists, but he always stopped himself. He was almost positive Taehyung hadn’t enjoyed their semi-physical contact as much as he did, and the thought of being rejected floated painfully through his mind at least a few times. 

 

More recently, they found they were both overwhelmed with school work, their final projects assigned with a few weeks to grind them out before the winter break began. Jungkook felt like he was juggling anvils with his workload, leaving him little leisure time and a lot of stress.

 

And less leisure time meant less Taehyung, a prospect Jungkook had previously rejoiced over but now actually found himself disliking. The nightly inferno that used to make him perspire into a puddle became a cozy blanket as of late, and Taehyung’s unpleasant scent had become so consistently accented with the unique vanilla that Jungkook actually missed it when it wasn’t around.

 

The attraction terrified him, but he was powerless against it. 

 

Biting anxiously at his lip, Jungkook felt disappointment prickle under his skin at Taehyung’s untimely absence. When he had thought of multiple people to keep him comfortable at the party, he hadn’t just thought of Jimin, Namjoon and Jin. He had also secretly hoped he could convince Taehyung to stick with him for a few hours. If anything, they could chatter more about their current anime binge, probably in the corner for the whole time. 

 

Well, he did still have an hour. There was no reason why he couldn’t check it Taehyung was just out or something.

 

[Jungkook]
Friday, 6:38 PM
Hey, you coming back to the dorm in like the next hour or two?

[Taehyung]
Friday, 6:45 PM
hey kookie!
unfortunately i’ll be gone till late tonight :(
i got asked to a party that im kinda being dragged to against my will
is everything okay?
do you need me to come back?

[Jungkook]
Friday, 6:51 PM
Lol no, I’m fine, thanks for offering though
I actually was gonna ask you if you wanted to come to a party thing with me tonight
Not that it’ll be bad, but I’m not the biggest partier and all..
But if you’re already at another, don’t worry about it

 

[Taehyung]
Friday, 6:54 PM
omg wHAT
i would’ve totally gone with you instead…!!!!
i really don’t want to go to the other...
uuuuugh
i’m sorry :’(

[Jungkook]
Friday, 6:59 PM
It’s okay, really, please don’t feel bad
My hyungs will be there so I’ll survive this time
Have a good time at your party! 

 

Locking his phone and tossing it on his bed, Jungkook blushed at his short conversation. Their in-person discussions may have been productive lately, but the casually texting Taehyung thing was still new. He sort of liked it.

 

And Taehyung had said he’d rather go with him, something Jungkook found highly unlikely, but it still made butterflies flutter in his gut. 

 

What was Taehyung doing to him?

 

Sighing, Jungkook stood before his closet, a frown on his face. It had been a ridiculously long time since he attended a party, and even longer since he dressed himself for one. There was a small period in his undergraduate career in which he could’ve been considered a party animal, but that didn’t last much longer than a semester, after he learned the hard way that he had to drink a lot to feel a little and drinking a lot usually ended in a bad night. He blamed his icy Winterborne traits - it definitely gave him a high tolerance. 

 

There was an open cardboard box still shoved in the corner of his closet, its contents a ghost of his partying’s past. He hadn’t even bothered to unpack them but was reluctant to ditch them, as they hadn’t been cheap, especially for a thrifty shopper like Jungkook. 

 

But Jimin had insulted his pride after offering his own wardrobe. Jungkook was perfectly capable of looking hot too, thank you very much. He dug through the old box, spotting his tightest pair of black leather pants and a dark blouse adorned with tiny sparkling beads. The shirt could’ve used an iron, but it would work. 

 

He pulled the collared blouse over his head, the cuffed sleeves long and flowing and the dark material smooth against his soft skin. He hadn’t remembered the v-neck dipping so low, showing off a small view of his collarbones, but it did the job nicely. 

 

The shirt had been easy, but the pants were another story. Jungkook’s thighs had grown to be far more muscular thanks to his classes with Hoseok, and they felt like they might bust through the material at any moment. Still, such clingy pants did wonders to show off... other curves worth mentioning. Tucking the puffy blouse in to his pants accented his rather small waist quite a bit as well. 

 

There was a tiny charcoal stick of eyeliner left at the bottom of his box, along with some tinted lip balm he used to wear often. Shrugging, Jungkook used it all, smearing a dramatic shadow onto his lower lid. It accentuated his sapphire eyes, bringing their color into view even more than usual. 

 

He slipped his shining black earrings through their holes, their dramatic length a feeling he wasn’t used to anymore. Their weight felt solid hanging from his ears, a constant reminder that he was dressed to impress tonight.

 

Jungkook raised his eyebrows at his reflection in the mirror before departing, satisfied with his appearance after throwing it together last minute. It wasn’t perfect, but he fit the scene. As a finishing touch, he parted his long hair from his forehead, spraying product into his dark locks so they would gently curl and fluff as the night went on.

 

As he slipped his pair of boots on that he relegated for nicer events, his phone vibrated with a text from Namjoon that they were there to pick him up. Perfect timing. 

 

Reapplying his lip balm once more, Jungkook popped his lips and laughed at his own reflection, feeling ridiculous, shy and somewhat confident all at once. 

 

Wannabe scene kid my ass, Park Jimin. 

 

~

 

Sitting in the corner on a stool, Jungkook sipped at his white russian, the taste of coffee just pleasant enough to help him overlook the burn of the liquor. Bass pounded hard enough from the overly large speaker system to obscure his heartbeat, but Jungkook surprisingly didn’t mind the music or it’s absurd volume. It helped him feel at ease when he tried to blend into the wall.

 

Why the hell did I agree to this? 

 

Jin had taken to Hoseok immediately, being a few of the first to arrive at the Summerborne’s luxurious apartment he shared with his sister, only after wolf whistling at Jungkook’s appearance. The bubbly nature of the two Summerborne mixed wonderfully, but it left Jungkook hanging when Namjoon struck up a deep conversation with Hoseok’s sister about law school. A few other students he vaguely recognized lingered about, but Jungkook preferred the solitude over pointless smalltalk. 

 

Cold danced over his knuckles as he fiddled with his jewelry, his silver ring with a sapphire stone glinting in the dim lighting of the living room. The ring was an heirloom from his grandfather that he had never met, but he still felt strangely close to the man through the piece of jewelry and the stories his grandmother had shared with him. Jungkook swore there were a few rare times he could see the stone igniting in a similar fashion to his eyes, but it almost certainly was a trick of the light glinting off its countless facets. 

 

“Jungkookie, stop sulking!” Jin whined as he left the kitchen to stand over Jungkook, the drink in his hand well on its way to a quick demise. “You’re always like this at parties. I’m not always going to be there to pull you out of your shell and poison your drinks, you know.”

 

Rolling his eyes, Jungkook sipped at his glass again. Jin usually attempted to get him drunk any time they had a night out, typically failing, but the closest he had ever come was after a few mixed drinks lovingly crafted by the Summer.

 

“I’m just here for Hobi-hyung,” he said simply, voice raised over the hip hop that loudly floated through the room. “Just enjoy yourself, don’t worry about me.” 

 

Sighing, Jin pulled Jungkook by the sleeve until he was standing. “At least come eat some pizza, I know you’re not turning down buffalo chicken.” 

 

Well… buffalo chicken was good. Jungkook relented, slowly making his way to the kitchen as Jin was pulled away by Namjoon to discuss cooking with Hoseok’s sister. A small smile grew on Jungkook’s face - he was glad to see his old friends getting along with his newer friends, and relieved to see Namjoon getting out of the house for once. Although he admittedly wasn’t much better in that regard. 

 

Several slices disappeared in succession as Jungkook silently ate them off a paper plate, the grease annoying on his hands and lips before he brushed it away with a napkin. Hiding in the empty dining room adjacent to the kitchen, he couldn’t help but be awestruck by huge variety of alcohol Hoseok had managed to accrue, the kitchen bar’s surface almost invisible buried beneath the array of sparkling glass bottles. It was a wonder one person had even managed to afford it all, but he wasn’t naive enough to believe Hoseok didn’t make a decent living from his position as a dance instructor, especially based on the incredibly lavish apartment. Plus, half the stash would be gone by tomorrow morning, and he was sure Hoseok wouldn’t bat an eye.

 

Noise continued to grow from the living room as new arrivals trickled in to the party, many making their way to the kitchen to pour their drinks. The music was soon paired with the buzz of a crowd, their tangled voices indistinguishable to Jungkook. Heaving a sigh, he knew he couldn’t hide in the empty solace of the dining room forever, as much as he wanted to. Jin would come looking for him again one way or another. 

 

Pouring himself another strong drink, the first having done very little except warm his cheeks, Jungkook took a deep breath before plunging himself into the living room again. It had rapidly become a mass of partiers, he was disappointed but unsurprised to see. Thankfully, he spotted Jin and Namjoon off to the side in an eager conversation with a dark, wavy-haired man of short stature. 

 

“And I tried to make the production smoother, but the fucking featured artist kept throwing in their two cents every time I submitted a final copy,” the man said indignantly while Namjoon shook his head, his cheeks flushed from the alcohol. Jungkook estimated at least three drinks in for both Jin and Joon already. Thank god he had the keys tonight. 

 

Taking a seat beside Jin on the arm of the couch, Jungkook observed the man talking to them. He had softened cheekbones but undeniably catlike features, his black hair atop his head a wavy mess. Dressed in a leather jacket and black boots, Jungkook felt a tad intimidated. A piercing gaze landed on Jungkook as he sat down, his narrowed eyes quickly widening into something like mild surprise.

 

Jungkook felt confusion hit him for a moment before he nearly spit his drink. 

 

It was another Winterborne, one with uniquely grey eyes. He had only met a few other Winter’s in his life, and meeting one now in the middle of a crowded party hadn’t exactly been something he prepared for. 

 

“You must be Jungkook,” the man said, voice low and smooth as he observed Jungkook’s sapphire gaze. Jungkook nodded slowly, feeling like he was pinned by a cat’s paw under his stare and reaching out to shake the man’s outstretched hand. “Min Yoongi.” 

 

Recognition sparked in Jungkook’s head immediately. This was Yoongi, the Yoongi Jimin never shut up about. “Um, yes. I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said nervously, sipping at his drink during the small bouts of silence. 

 

Yoongi snorted, shaking his head slowly. “Oh I’m sure you have. And I just want to tell you that 99% of it is hot air, don’t let Jimin fool you,” he said with a smirk. Jungkook a huffed a breathy laugh. He already knew Jimin’s dramatic nature too well by now, but if he was sure about anything regarding his pink-haired friend, it was that he was stupidly head over heels for Min Yoongi. 

 

“Um, you’re- you’re-,” Jungkook stuttered, unable to stop himself. Jimin had cleverly decided to leave out the glaringly obvious tidbit that Yoongi was a Winterborne like Jungkook. He was a little frustrated his friend hadn’t told him before. 

 

Cocking an eyebrow, Yoongi sipped at his vodka while Jin and Namjoon exchanged a smirk. “I’m a Winterborne, yeah. Jimin said you’d probably be as shocked as you look right now.”

 

Jungkook had a thousand questions. Did he have any similar powers? Any interactions with Springborne? How did he manage warm temperatures? Did he see bright blues like Jungkook did? He bounced his leg anxiously, unsure if the middle of a party was the appropriate time to ask.

 

“I can literally see you having an internal meltdown right now. First of all, I know your secret, so don’t be afraid to spill it,” Yoongi said flatly. Jin and Namjoon’s smiles fell, glancing at him in shock. 

 

Shock sparked through him. Putting his face in his palm, Jungkook contemplated all the ways to kill Park Jimin. How could he tell such an important secret? 

 

“Don’t get mad at Jimin,” Yoongi started, and Jungkook wondered if the dark haired man could read minds. “I saw a photo of you guys on his phone and figured it out easily.” 

 

Jungkook was stunned, Jin gaping beside him while Namjoon looked strangely suspicious. There were people that recognized his potency at a glance? The thought of his secret being laid bare to predatory parties sent fear through him.

 

Yoongi grimaced, sighing as he continued to drink. “Alright, relax kid. You too,” he nodded at Jin and Namjoon. “My family history is a little… unique. I’d be the only one who could identify you so easily.”

 

“Family..?” Jungkook repeated aimlessly. Not a soul had yet been able to tell Jungkook was as powerful as he was from his eye color. It was vague enough for even his parents not to have known before he revealed it to them, and they took his secret to their early graves. If they hadn’t recognized the signs, what made Yoongi educated enough to make assumptions through the pixels on a screen? 

 

Jungkook was lost in a swirl of thought, completely unaware of Yoongi glancing around him, his sharp stare softening almost immediately. 

 

Everything is so fucking complicated lately, Jungkook thought irritatedly as he took a long swig from his glass, wishing it did what it was intended to for once.

 

Jungkook choked, literally choked on his drink, as the comforting lavender vanilla scent he had been so fond of lately suddenly wafted under his nose. Jin glanced at him concernedly, patting his back for comfort. This was the last place he expected someone to smell like Taehyung, but here it was, mixed in with the growing count of bodies and blaring music. Had he grown so used to it that he was hallucinating it? 

 

“...Kookie?” 

 

Black earrings swinging as he spun around, Jungkook felt his jaw unhinge. Beside Jimin, who was naturally dressed like a model from head to toe in a glorious array of tight, branded clothing, was Taehyung. The Spring had a colorful drink in his hand, face reddened by alcohol already.  

 

Except it wasn’t Taehyung. It was an otherworldly creature that looked like Taehyung, smelled like Taehyung and sounded like Taehyung. But no way in hell, no way in any universe was that Taehyung. 

 

Glitter adorned every inch of Taehyung’s skin, even sparkling in his already radiant hair. His cheekbones were swept with the brightest of highlights, his subtle lip color shining brightly even in the dim lighting. The golden halo of hair was curled to perfection, shimmering waves framing his sharp features in perfect symmetry while a single, long earring ran parallel to his profile. A touch of charcoal lined his eyelids, accentuating his emerald green just like Jungkook’s had. His tight pants left nothing to the imagination, and his oversized button down only emphasized the honeyed caramel tone of his skin. 

 

Taehyung was here, looking like an angel amongst normal humans. Panic swept in as Jungkook felt the most overwhelming desire yet to reach out to him, to feel the searing warmth beneath his palm, to see Taehyung’s glittering eyelids flutter shut at his caress as they had several nights ago. 

 

Taehyung looked as stunned as Jungkook felt, his shocked stare running down Jungkook’s figure repeatedly before meeting his gaze. At the attention, Jungkook suddenly remembered he had dressed dramatically tonight, mentally thanking Jimin for insulting him enough to wear the flashy outfit. 

 

He swallowed thickly at their eye contact, biting his tongue. At Taehyung’s slowly reddening cheeks, the scent of vanilla might as well have been dumped over Jungkook like a bucket of thick liquid. It ran down his face, nearly suffocating him with the most wonderful scent he ever encountered. It was Taehyung’s good scent amplified tenfold, so enticing he was sure his knees would give out sometime soon. 

 

Their meeting in public was incredibly dangerous, Jungkook noted, as he saw the faintest flicker of green shine across Taehyung’s irises like a shooting star. The Spring’s power was coaxing Jungkook’s glow again, reaching within him to take what it thought belonged to it. He grit his teeth, his inner cold tugging at the reins as he grappled for control. 

 

They were screwed. 

 

“Kookie,” Taehyung murmured in a strained voice, far too soft for the surrounding noise. Jungkook heard it with perfect clarity anyway. “I didn’t realize this was the party you were talking about…”

 

Chuckling nervously, Jungkook bit at his lip, finally breaking his gaze and attempting to look anywhere else. How did Taehyung manage to outdo himself every time? A single second more of eye contact and Jungkook was afraid they would both burst into flames, or at least he would. 

 

It didn’t make it any easier that he wanted to give in more than ever before.

 

Their friends stood by warily, Jimin and Namjoon observing their interaction with keen concern. Namjoon elbowed Jin, who caught on immediately. 

 

“Oh Jungkookie!” Jin started eagerly, tugging on his arm to get his attention. “These must be the friends I’ve heard so much about, right?”

 

Tension still rigid in his muscles, Jungkook recognized Jin’s intervention, but still struggled to formulate words. “Y-yeah, this is Park Jimin, my friend from dance,” he introduced tightly, gesturing to the pink-haired summer who clung to Yoongi’s arm. “And this is Kim Taehyung, my roommate.”

 

Don’t look at him.

 

“It’s really nice to finally meet both of you,” Jin gushed, the perfect picture of inviting. “I hope Jungkook hasn’t been too much of a pain in the ass, he can be a little chilly at times.”

 

Jimin laughed loudly, Taehyung huffing beside him. Jungkook didn’t register the jab - his mind only pulsing with alarm bells at the close proximity of Taehyung, how Taehyung had dressed, how incredible he smelled, how his laugh sounded like the best thing he’s ever heard-

 

“He really is a pain, but for some reason we love him,” Jimin said with a grin, holding out his hand to Jin. “You must be Jin, and I’m assuming you’re Namjoon? I heard that I have to try some of your famous cooking because, according to Jungkook, I haven’t tasted real food till I’ve eaten yours.”

 

“D’aww, how sweet,” Jin said dramatically, practically throwing himself onto Jungkook to pinch his cheeks. Being bodied by the broad-shouldered man did help break his tunnel vision on Taehyung, though his power still threatened to seep into his vision. “Any friend of Jungkookie is welcome any time, we’d love to have you over for dinner.”

 

Jimin beamed, launching into an avid discussion about baking with Jin. But his boyfriend beside him cocked an eyebrow, glancing between the painfully awkward forms of Jungkook and Taehyung. Tension rolled off the pair, both uncomfortably quiet as they still tried to take in one another without making eye contact. 

 

After a brief moment, Yoongi sighed, downing the remaining half of his drink in one go. He released a long breath, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, before abruptly approaching Jungkook. “Hey, Jungkook, I just happen to need another drink.” He raised his empty glass. “Come with me to get one.”

 

“B-But, hyung, why do I need to-”

 

Suddenly being dragged away, Jungkook felt the air slowly return to his lungs while Yoongi led them through the crowd. Taehyung’s scent still lingered around him, almost allowing him to pinpoint the Spring’s location, but it no longer threatened to suffocate him. He wasn’t sure if he was grateful or disappointed by its absence.

 

~

 

Pouring two cups of yet another strong drink in the vacated dining room, Yoongi clinked his glass with a dazed Jungkook, taking a long swig. Jungkook stared at the ice in his glass, watching condensation run down its side. 

 

“I get it, you’re trying not to react to Taehyung. Just relax and enjoy your drink.”

 

Jungkook gaped, still unused to speaking about his internal power struggle so openly with someone other than his closest friends. It was several minutes of silence and nursing his vodka before he finally spoke again. 

 

“Do you glow?” Jungkook asked rather bluntly. He wasn’t drunk, but at the very least, he felt the alcohol taking the edge off his uncertainty. Whatever Yoongi gave him was strong. 

 

Yoongi snorted over his glass. “Is that really your first question?”

 

Shrugging, Jungkook burned shapes with his gaze into the wood grain of the dining table. “It’s the biggest problem in my head at the moment, so I figured I should find out.”

 

“Well, the answer is barely. I’m what’s called a equinoctial season.” Jungkook raised a brow at him, unfamiliar with the term. 

 

“Both of my grandparents were very, very pure, and they managed to pass down a perfect balance of both Spring and Winter to me. It counters out both seasonal nuisances, like manipulation over growth or cold. I can still tell when Springborne or Winterborne are using powers near me though, and I can sort of recognize your scents too.”

 

Mind racing, Jungkook was floored at Yoongi’s explanation. He had never heard of an equinoctial season before, and the concept alone was a lot to wrap his head around. “So, temperature…?”

 

The small Winter shook his head. “Nope, I’m perfectly comfortable almost all year around.” 

 

“How could you tell my potency just from my eye color?”

 

Yoongi tapped his long fingers along the table, gaze unfocused on Jungkook’s hands as if deep in thought. “My grandfather was a pure winter. I’m guessing you freeze shit constantly and hate warm temperatures, right? Worse when your emotions are negative?”

 

Jungkook nodded slowly, still alarmed at how someone could know so much about him after they had spoken so little. A little hesitant at first, he explained his powers in detail, even the moments during his childhood that they had cropped up. Yoongi was quiet but contemplative, nodding at Jungkook as he recounted taming his powers and the strenuous exercises he had to endure to have the control he did now. It wasn’t long before Jungkook was overflowing with stories about his problems as a Winter, rambling on about his treatment at previous dorm to using too much blue in his design work. 

 

He felt a little bad for dragging Yoongi into his personal pit of baggage, but surprisingly, he felt incredibly comfortable around the man, like they had known each other in the past and had just met up again for coffee. Thankfully, the other Winter was more than patient, asking questions only where needed, but mostly allowing him to get his issues off his chest. 

 

Jungkook found it nice to have someone listen to him without trying to solve every problem he had. He supposed the Winterborne in Yoongi made them similar, in a strange way.

 

A phone vibrated on the table, and Yoongi scrolled through it, flicking until he opened a text window. 

 

“Jimin is looking for me,” he sighed after a moment, locking it and sliding it into his pocket. “As much as I despise crowds, we should show face for at least a little while.”

 

Checking the time on his own phone, Jungkook was startled to see it had been nearly an hour since they began their discussion. He bit his lip, the thought of Taehyung just a room away never having left him, but at least he could keep his composure in the dining room. Going back out there meant possibly dealing with a drunk Taehyung, a mildly terrifying prospect he had skirted around discussing with Yoongi.

 

“And… Taehyung…” 

 

Huffing a sigh, Yoongi grimaced at his glass, tracing his pointer finger along the rim. “I don’t have a lot of advice for you there.” Jungkook was a little surprised to find Yoongi’s calm demeanor change to something a little more angry, his grey eyes swirling with complicated emotions Jungkook couldn’t sort out. 

 

“I trust Taehyung, Jungkook,” he said, boring his grey eyes into Jungkook’s surprised sapphire pair. “You probably shouldn’t, but I do. I hope that’s enough for you.”

 

Flicking his head to the side in a small motion, Jungkook felt confusion at the Winter’s words. Why shouldn’t he trust Taehyung? They had sorted out their issues… right?

 

Sighing, Yoongi finally stood, stretching his short arms into the air. “Alright, let’s go check on the idiots.”    

 

~

 

The lights had gotten dimmer in the huge living room since they had left, and the participants had gotten that much drunker, Jungkook noted. 

 

Although not quite drunk himself, Jungkook was definitely tipsy, the alcohol’s warmth fuzzy on his typically cool cheeks. It loosened his muscles and truthfully made him want to dance, but the social anxiety was enough to keep him from taking a step into the thick crowd. Yoongi disappeared quickly, likely off to find Jimin.

 

There was no sign, or smell, of Taehyung yet. Jungkook was half thankful and half disappointed.

 

A dance floor of sorts had taken over the room, the center thick with bodies, while the walls along the edges were occupied by the few not dancing. Spotting Jin on a couch, deep in conversation with Hoseok about god knows what, Jungkook started for their side of the room. He bit back a laugh as he approached, seeing Namjoon dead asleep, his head lolling and mouth open on his boyfriend’s shoulder. 

 

Jin noticed Jungkook from a distance, shooting him a wide grin but holding a finger to his lips as if to suggest Jungkook stay quiet. Shaking his head in response, he doubted any amount of yelling could wake the Autumnborne anyway, if the ridiculously loud beat already wasn’t enough to keep him up. 

 

He had nearly made it to the couch when Jungkook felt a pull at his arm, a small hand wrapped around his elbow. He whipped his head around to find Jimin, face covered in sweat and reddened like he had just walked out of a sauna. “And where do you think you’re going, Jeon?” he drawled, raising a brow. Jungkook smelt plenty of alcohol on his breath. “I know how you dance better than anyone, get your ass in here or I’m siccing Hoseok on you next class.”

 

Groaning, Jungkook let himself be dragged between people, most of them completely unaware of him brushing past.  The center of the room was hot and crowded, way hotter than Jungkook preferred, but he chalked his lack of caring up to the alcohol. 

 

Bass pounded through his limbs, the rhythm lulling him into movement nearly against his will. It felt right to move with the music, the motions familiar and practiced, but more casual than he was used to. No one but Jimin knew who he was out here anyway.   

 

Dancing outside the studio felt a little liberating as song after song slipped by, especially with a bit of drinking involved, and the relative anonymity of the crowd had Jungkook letting loose a side he didn’t often feel. He wouldn’t call himself confident in most scenarios, but when it came to dance, Jungkook naturally always seemed to be at center stage. Sweat dripped down the curve of his back as he swung his narrow waist to the music. It was fun, actually, even after Jimin had disappeared. 

 

He was sort of drunk, and he was having fun. That was all he needed to know at the moment.

 

Jungkook’s hips froze mid-roll as palms hot as irons landed on his waist. At his sharp inhale, his insides were coated with a heavy vanilla and lavender scent, spreading heat throughout every corner of his body. With a shaky breath, Jungkook cast a glance over his shoulder, finding his face inches away from Taehyung’s.

 

“T-Taehyung,” he choked, head feeling staticky from the combination of warmth, music and alcohol. He couldn’t believe Taehyung was touching him, his hands feeling like they would burn holes into him at any moment. The touch felt thrillingly terrifying, especially after two long weeks of no contact. 

 

“It’s not fair,” Taehyung slurred, his glittery eyelids half closed as they ran down Jungkook’s figure. “It’s not fair, Kookie. Why do you get to look so good?”

 

Yep, he’s gone , Jungkook thought nervously, feeling red creep further down his neck at the compliment. Drunk Taehyung was ogling him and holding him - what universe was he living in? 

 

The crowd surrounded them tightly, arms bumping into Jungkook’s constantly. A swaying body brushed against Taehyung, knocking him into Jungkook’s back. The drunken Spring stumbled as Jungkook panicked, flinching as Taehyung gripped the material of his shirt. It felt like he had laid his bare back down on hot sand, the thin texture of his shimmering blouse their only shield between normalcy and all hell breaking loose. 

 

Taehyung’s forehead rested against Jungkook’s shoulder, and he thought his heart might give out for how fast it was racing. They stood still in the sea of movement, breathing heavy while their skin glistened with sweat. 

 

“Are you okay?” Jungkook whispered softly, his nose mere inches away from Taehyung’s hair as he glanced over his shoulder again. Jungkook thought briefly that he wanted to bury his face in the golden locks, to inhale the scent he was slowly becoming addicted to. The blonde looked up at him with wide eyes, the softest of glows around his inner ring.

 

Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was Taehyung, but Jungkook found he was currently unable to give a fuck about their dim glowing. He prayed those surrounding him didn’t notice either. 

 

“Can- can we dance?” Taehyung asked quietly, breath hot on Jungkook’s neck, though he might as well have been shouting as it reverberated in Jungkook’s brain. 

 

“I want to,” Jungkook answered in a low voice, avoiding the true meaning of the question. They could technically dance, but it would be a little more than dangerous for them to bring their bodies together, especially in the way Jungkook’s mind was screaming at him to do.

 

Inhaling swiftly, Jungkook spun on the spot, facing Taehyung with sparkling eyes. He swallowed thickly as he took in his friend’s appearance again, his outfit nothing less than ethereal, especially under the shining lights.

 

Taehyung had called Jungkook unfair, but that statement was clearly misplaced. He was the unfair one. 

 

Jungkook slowly reached out, body feeling as if it were moving through a thick pool filled with vanilla. Even in his hazy state, he made sure to be ultra attentive to Taehyung’s bare skin as he latched onto his roommate’s waist. They had both fortunately chosen to wear pants and long sleeves, although there was still a major annoyance in having to avoid each other’s bare hands, or faces, or necks, or wrists. All places Jungkook irritatingly found himself gravitating to.

 

Taehyung automatically curled his hands into Jungkook’s shirt, taking care to avoid the dip of his v-neck. Every cell in Jungkook’s body was tingling with heat, feeling drugged by Taehyung’s presence. As the beat carried on around them, he tugged the Spring closer to him, skin warm enough to blister while Taehyung’s heavy-lidded, green eyes poured into his.

 

The obscured burn through their clothing was a welcome one, one that Jungkook had no problem ignoring. He was plenty distracted by the pooling inferno in his gut, especially after the way Taehyung’s hips began to move against his own.

 

There were more than two of them dancing, but Jungkook wouldn’t have known. He only saw Taehyung, his senses consumed by him while his fingers pressed into the material of Taehyung’s pants clinging to his hips. Everything in his life felt righted with Taehyung moving under his palms, their bodies grinding against each other at a temperature so hot, they may as well have been close to starting a fire. 

 

Blue inched into Jungkook’s vision, but he ignored it. His mind only had room for Taehyung’s glittering cheekbones, for the way his tongue darted out to lick his lips, for the sweat dripping down his neck and the way his head tipped back, especially when Jungkook unconsciously slid his hands a little lower to lightly drag his nails over the swell of Taehyung’s ass. 

 

He never wanted this moment to end. If Jungkook had the choice, he’d stay pressed against Taehyung forever. The Springborne’s power blanketed him, only heightening the contentment he felt with the blonde in his hold. Taehyung looked the same, his intoxicated stare only finding Jungkook and never leaving him. Green flare flicked to his lips repeatedly, conveying intention they couldn’t act upon.

 

Jungkook dug his nails in a little tighter, pulling Taehyung even closer. At his tugging force, Taehyung groaned aloud, his head falling to rest on Jungkook’s clothed shoulder. 

 

Every motion, every breath they shared had Jungkook’s brain screaming with primal desire. Logical thought left him as he tensed with Taehyung’s incredible-smelling head resting against him. He bit his cheek until he felt it bleed, heat boiling both in his gut and at every single point Taehyung’s body made contact with his. Jungkook found himself leaning forward to the blonde’s ear, wanting to brush it with his lips. It took all of his willpower to remain less than a breath away. 

 

“Is this okay?” he whispered, a little satisfied when he felt Taehyung shudder violently at the hot breath on his ear. The Spring nodded into his shoulder, head barely lifting as he arched his back to press harder into Jungkook’s grip. The Winter bit his lip, a soft whine escaping him at the contact. He wanted more, couldn’t get enough of it. 

 

Feeling Taehyung slowly sag against him, Jungkook carefully removed his vice grip, bringing one hand upwards to gently thread through the very tips of the hair at the base of Taehyung’s neck, and curling the other around his waist. It was an art to not accidentally brush his skin, but Jungkook was overcome with the need to touch his golden locks again. They were even softer than he had remembered. 

 

“Are you alright?” Jungkook asked softly into his ear after a few minutes, gently continuing his petting motion. Taehyung’s weight was gradually leaning further into Jungkook the longer they stood together, and he was afraid the Spring might actually bury his face in his neck if it went any further. 

 

Taehyung shook his head side to side against Jungkook’s shoulder. “Don’t feel good,” he moaned, warm breath sending shudders through the Winter. “Too hot.”

 

Although heat slammed Jungkook’s gut at Taehyung’s wrecked voice, he couldn’t help but sympathize. He was hot in about fifty different ways and all of them were threatening to suffocate him at any moment. 

 

“Why don’t we go get some water?” Jungkook crooned gently, rubbing comforting circles into Taehyung’s back. The tenderness in his voice surprised him, but it strangely made perfect sense when it came to Taehyung. 

 

The Spring shook his head again, fists curling tighter into his shirt. “Can’t walk. Can’t move.” 

 

Jungkook huffed a laugh at Taehyung’s endearing tone. “But you’re standing, are you telling me you can’t make it to the chair?” 

 

Another shake of the head. Jungkook exhaled softly, knowing Taehyung’s awareness was waning. “Alright then, come here. Careful not to touch my neck, okay?”

 

He shifted Taehyung’s growing weight onto his left side, the Spring pushing against Jungkook while the Winter attentively swung his arm around his shoulder. Bracing Taehyung against him, he all but dragged him through the crowd to an open chair.

 

Jungkook kept his eyes towards the floor, blinking rapidly to rid himself of the blue light. But with Taehyung still touching him and his delectable scent still smothering him, it seemed impossible to put out the fire in his vision. 

 

A blessedly empty couch greeted them when they finally reached the wall, and Jungkook gently positioned himself and Taehyung to sit. The Spring nearly collapsed as they bent down, bouncing on the leather surface as he immediately curled in on Jungkook’s side. Gritting his teeth, Jungkook inched away, just barely escaping Taehyung’s face as it headed for his neck. Instead, the blonde laid his head onto his bicep, clinging to his arm like a koala.

 

Jungkook snorted as he rested a hand on Taehyung's knee, gently squeezing it when his captive arm had nowhere to go and feeling heat rush to the surface of his skin. 

 

He was trapped under a needy Taehyung, perpetually afraid of coming into contact with him and pretty sure the Spring wouldn’t remember a thing in the morning. It wasn’t the most ideal situation. 

 

But Taehyung was clinging to him, showing him affection, touching him. He wanted to drown himself in it.

 

“Hmm, what do we have here?” a sly voice chimed. Jimin gazed down at the pair with the biggest shit-eating grin Jungkook had ever seen in his life, Yoongi straight faced by his side.   

 

Jungkook shook his head. “Don’t start.”  

 

Glued to his arm, Taehyung whined, nuzzling into Jungkook’s shoulder as he adjusted himself. He was out cold. 

 

Jimin’s giggle tinkled over the music as he reached out to fluff Taehyung’s hair. Jungkook bit his lip at how easy the contact was between the two. 

 

“He’s not moving unless you carry him, Jungkook. This happens every time he goes in too hard,” Yoongi explained, eyeing the contact between them as if it were a bomb to be disarmed. “I’ll drive you both home, Namjoon and Jin are already asleep in the guest room.”

 

Jungkook raised his eyebrows, shocked that his friends were staying the night, though a little relieved since he now felt responsible for Taehyung, maybe even a little protective over him in his vulnerable state. 

 

“Drag him out, I’ll drive you guys home,” the grey-eyed Winter said, keys jangling in his hands. Jungkook handed Namjoon’s car keys to Jimin, knowing they’d need them in the morning eventually.

 

How am I going to get this idiot out of here? Jungkook thought, looking over to Taehyung’s blonde head with a touch of fondness. He reached out to brush away some of the locks Jimin had messed, gently realining them. 

 

Jimin watched the interaction thoughtfully, brows furrowing. “Jungkook,” he started carefully, “There’s something you should know about when Tae gets like this.” He paused as Jungkook turned to look at him with questioning eyes. 

 

“His last roommate, you know he was a stalker, right?” Jimin inquired. Jungkook nodded, guilt still simmering in his chest when he thought of how he almost forced Taehyung back to a room with a predator. 

 

“His nightmares get really bad when tries to sleep off being drunk. So, just… stay with him, okay?” The Summer’s flecked eyes were surprisingly pleading, to Jungkook’s confusion, but he nodded in response. His gut told him he wouldn’t be simply abandoning Taehyung tonight anyway. 

 

He and Taehyung were magnets, and right now, they were firmly stuck together, unable to be pried apart. A part of Jungkook wished it could always be this way.

 

~

 

Okay, things should never be this way. 

 

Gasping for breath, Jungkook finally entered his dark dorm room, grateful that Yoongi had come up long enough to open the door since his hands had been full.

 

Full of a certain Taehyung, after carrying him bridal-style up five damn flights of stairs.

 

At first, he had eyed Taehyung’s side of the room, ready to drop the practically lifeless form in his searing arms onto the cream-colored bed, but Jimin’s words rang throughout Jungkook’s head. If Taehyung was going to need him, which he doubted anyway, he would end up having to go to the other side, which meant probably sleeping there.   

 

And if he was being honest, he didn’t want to sleep on Taehyung’s side, but he wasn’t sure if it was crossing a line to let Taehyung stay in his own bed. Biting his lip, Jungkook’s muscles shook under Taehyung’s weight. He needed to make a decision or they were going to sleep right in the entryway when Jungkook dropped him.

 

Fuck it.

 

Shouldering past his blue curtain, Jungkook entered his side of the room, gently laying the Spring onto his bed. He groaned as he rolled his aching muscles, remembering he had dance practice that very afternoon, plus his dancing with Taehyung…

 

Jungkook felt his cheeks reddening as he stared down at the Spring, his breathing soft and steady, his golden hair splayed out against the navy pillows. He was confident lines had been blurred tonight as he recalled the way he and Taehyung had grinded against each other, how their bodies had been a tangled inferno, but Jungkook knew there was a solid chance Taehyung wouldn’t remember much.

 

He wasn’t sure if he’d be upset or relieved if Taehyung woke up forgetting how they had acted.

 

Flicking on his string lights, Jungkook glanced at Taehyung to make sure he was asleep before changing into a long shirt and sweatpants. He felt bad he couldn’t help the Spring get into more comfortable attire as he observed his tightly buttoned blouse, the material bunched up beneath him. Hovering over Taehyung as he slept soundly, he felt almost too motherly, deeply discomforted by the disheveled dress clothes.

 

I could… but would it be weird? But it looks so uncomfortable? Ugh. 

 

Pulling a long-sleeved navy shirt from his drawer, Jungkook tiptoed to his bed, knowing full well Taehyung wouldn’t wake up to a bomb going off, but still moving carefully out of nerves. 

 

“Alright, listen,” he spoke softly to the unconscious Spring, as if to talk himself through it. “I’m going to try to take this off,” he tugged at the blouse, “without burning the shit out of you. Sound good?” 

 

Taehyung remained silent, except for his soft breaths. Gritting his teeth, Jungkook gently untucked the remainder of the shirt Taehyung wore and quickly got to work, starting from the bottom buttons. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. He lifted the seam from the Spring’s chest as far as possible to avoid his skin as he undid each button from its hole, face turning crimson as more of Taehyung’s tanned stomach was revealed.

 

Halfway there, Jungkook thought exhaustively as the shirt was undone, revealing Taehyung’s bare chest. The Winter felt like a complete jerk for undressing him, but he knew it’d be appreciated after Taehyung slept for likely the next twelve hours. Tugging at the sleeves, Jungkook managed to dislodge one arm by some miracle and quickly worked to pull the other off by the cuff, almost needing to roll the blonde over to remove it from underneath him. 

 

Swallowing thickly, Jungkook felt heat in his cheeks, this time completely his own. This was not even within a hundred miles of how he had wanted to undress Taehyung, especially in his own bed. The whole situation was ridiculous, but he couldn’t help but admire how beautiful Taehyung looked, his smooth, unmarred skin appearing soft and supple against Jungkook’s dark sheets. 

 

Can you stop being thirsty for like two seconds?

 

Sighing, Jungkook bunched up his spare shirt at its neck, gently shimmying it over Taehyung’s head as he tugged it from the outside. They had now reached the toughest part - he was going to need to bring Taehyung to life for this one. 

 

“Hey, wake up, you big dork,” Jungkook muttered, rubbing his palm into Taehyung’s clothed knee. “I can’t do this part without you.”

 

Taehyung’s nose scrunched as Jungkook dipped his fingers below Taehyung’s knee in a ticklish motion. “I’m not afraid to tickle you until you wake up, drunk or not. All I need is your arms so I don’t burn your skin off, deal?”

 

A tiny pout appeared on Taehyung’s lips, his eyes still firmly shut. Jungkook giggled at the sight, attempting to ignore the shirtless and quite frankly hot roommate he currently had on his bed. 

 

Resuming his tugging, Jungkook pleaded with Taehyung to put his arms into the sleeves. “Please Tae, work with me here.” 

 

...Tae?

 

Jungkook blinked, surprised at himself. The nickname felt foreign on his tongue, but still managed to send tiny sparks through him. Taehyung called him Kookie, so he could call Taehyung something too, right? Plus, he was asleep, so it really didn’t matter. 

 

“Tae,” Jungkook crooned softly, feeling his own tiredness coming down upon him quickly. “I just need your arms, can you do this one thing for me?” He tickled Taehyung’s thighs. “Please, Tae?”

 

With a tiny whine, Taehyung finally spread his arms above him in an aimless fashion. Jungkook rushed to pull the shirt over them, wiggling it down his back while the Spring shifted into a more comfortable position.  

 

Stepping back to catch his breath, Jungkook was slightly proud of his results. He had somehow managed to put Taehyung into at least an acceptably comfy shirt without touching his skin. It felt like some sort of hard mode, and he was stuck playing it, but at least he beat this boss. 

 

His tongue stuck in his cheek as he continued observing Taehyung, a strangely satisfied feeling overcoming him at the sight of the Spring asleep in his bed, in one of his own navy thermal shirts. He almost felt like he was living a dream, and that when he woke, things would go back to how they had been a mere few hours ago. But Jungkook was sure the burn of Taehyung’s presence had been real, and the extra-luscious scent that was stubbornly clinging to his skin was proof of that.

 

This’ll be… interesting. He wasn’t a fan of sleeping on the floor, and the generous queen beds the dorm provided were more than enough for him and Taehyung to share, but Jungkook was still hesitant. They had blurred so many boundaries already tonight, and this would be the icing on the cake, particularly since he couldn’t touch the very person he would be sleeping with.

 

But a greedy part of Jungkook whispered in his ear to make it work, the part that craved Taehyung to a scary degree. He swallowed, analyzing how to go about making it safe for both of them. Shoving a pillow between their chests and another between their heads, Jungkook built an efficient barrier wall as he laid down beside Taehyung. He covered his hands with his sleeves, hoping it would prevent him from accidentally brushing Taehyung, and even tucked his shirt into his pants so it wouldn’t ride up during the night. 

 

This is ridiculous, Jungkook thought to himself with a shake of his head. But his heartbeat still sped up as he thought of Taehyung, Springborne Taehyung, sleeping beside him in his bed. Peering over the pillow, he saw Taehyung had adjusted himself to curl up into a ball, his hands tightly wound against his chest. It tugged at Jungkook’s heartstrings, and he made sure to pull the blanket over Taehyung a final time before making himself comfortable… as comfortable as one could get with a wall of pillows between himself and the counterbalance to his existence. 

 

While he drifted off to sleep, Jungkook thought it was utterly terrifying that Taehyung felt like he belonged where he slept tonight.

 

 

It was sweltering, maybe even hotter than that. Jungkook awoke in a feverish state to a still-darkened room, jolting when he realized his barrier between him and Taehyung had been broken down with ease. 

 

Taehyung’s leg was thrown haphazardly over Jungkook’s torso, the Spring’s hand fisting at his shirt. The contact points were blistering with heat, though Jungkook didn’t immediately shove him off. 

 

Eyebrows furrowed, Taehyung’s face looked to almost be in pain, his body a lot more rigid than it had been when Jungkook helped dress him earlier. Small whines escaped his lips as he shook, quickly erasing any trace of sleep from Jungkook’s mind. Taehyung was definitely having a nightmare.

 

Shaking him gently, Jungkook whispered into the darkness. “Taehyung, you’re dreaming.” 

 

The blonde’s nose scrunched, body turning gently as he seemed to fight off shadows. Hurt lanced Jungkook’s chest as he watched Taehyung suffer, feeling awful he couldn’t do more to help.

 

“Tae,” he said in a louder voice. “Wake up, Tae. It’s a bad dream.” He ran his fingertips down Taehyung’s back. “Wake up.”

 

Gasping for air, Taehyung shot into sitting position, making Jungkook nearly topple out of the bed. Taehyung was almost hyperventilating, his lungs doing a poor job of supplying him with the air he needed as he struggled to take in reality again. He shook violently, hands curling around his arms in a tight hold.

 

Jungkook immediately sat up, twisting his body to put himself in front of his roommate. His stomach dropped at Taehyung’s wide, illuminated eyes, feeling his blue responding with a roar almost instantly. “Hey, look at me. It’s okay, you’re okay.” He brushed the surface of Taehyung’s hair away from his face. “Breathe, Tae.”

 

Green locked to Jungkook’s blue with urgency, quickly disappearing as Taehyung launched forward, burying his face in Jungkook’s chest as he gripped at his shirt. The Winterborne’s kneeled form went rigid, painfully alert of Taehyung’s proximity to bare neck, but he still managed to gingerly wrap his arms around the blonde, murmuring soothing okays over and over in hopes they would dispel Taehyung’s shadows.

 

A shuddering breath was heard below him. “Every time,” Taehyung said softly, voice gravelly with sleep and anxiety, “every time I drink, it comes back.” 

 

“What comes back?” Jungkook asked patiently, cringing at the fear in Taehyung’s voice. He wished he could chase away whatever continued to hurt him. 

 

He was only answered with minutes of silence.

 

The Spring slowly lifted his head from Jungkook’s chest, awareness finally seeming to settle over him as he looked down at his oversized shirt. Jungkook watched as his dim green flared with a bright intensity, vanilla slamming his lungs with a sudden force. 

 

“Y-you, and this, and here.” He held up a navy arm, the blue of the shirt a hazy glow to Jungkook. The light above caught Taehyung’s attention as he observed his surroundings with wild eyes. 

 

Jungkook winced. “I-I-I’m really sorry if it was too much, you just seemed really uncomfortable and I-”

 

Taehyung’s eyes were glued to the ceiling, LEDs still twinkling from when Jungkook had turned them on earlier. It occurred to him at the sight of Taehyung’s slacked jaw that he had never actually seen Jungkook’s side of the room, by sheer chance. 

 

“Jungkook,” he said, voice awestruck, “this is…”

 

Jungkook watched carefully as Taehyung’s throat bobbed, shadows cast onto his tired face from the string lights above. “This is beautiful.”

 

It was silly how much pride flooded Jungkook’s heart, his eyes practically overflowing with light. Hearing artwork he was proud of being complimented by Taehyung filled him with a far better feeling than any other critique he had heard in the past. 

 

“T-thank you,” he muttered sheepishly, scratching at his neck as the soothing warmth ran over his skin. 

 

Rubbing at his face with a sleeve, Taehyung shook his head. “No, thank you. You obviously somehow got me back here, let me take over your bed and even changed me.”  

 

“It was nothing,” Jungkook said quickly, eager to get the gratitude off of him. After all that had happened that night, he was embarrassed by a thank you. Go figure. 

 

Taehyung seemed to hesitate, grimacing at the dividing wall before fiddling with the edge of Jungkook’s comforter. “Would you.. uh..” he stumbled, biting at his lip. “Would you mind if I stayed here for- for tonight? In case… they come back?” 

 

Jungkook cocked his head to the side, as if he weren’t expecting the question. “Of course you can,” he said quickly, even a little too eagerly. “Anytime you want.”

 

Why are you like this? Jungkook whined in his own head, face reddening as Taehyung’s heat washed over him. He just offered to let Taehyung sleep in his bed ‘anytime’. Smooth. Really smooth.

 

Throwing himself backwards with force, Taehyung pushed himself close to the wall. He stared unblinkingly at the ceiling for awhile, eventually looking up at Jungkook when he noticed he hadn’t moved an inch. Jungkook watched as Taehyung softly patted the empty space beside him, suggesting he lie down as well. 

 

Blushing furiously, Jungkook repositioned himself to lay down again, holding a pillow tightly against his chest. Taehyung being awake beside him in the same bed felt like a lightyear away from him passed out drunk next to him. This was downright frightening, or maybe thrilling, possibly even amazing. They laid side by side, their breathing the only sound filling the space.

 

“The guy who stalks me,” Taehyung said softly, startling Jungkook in the quiet. “I see him in my nightmares.” 

 

Jungkook stuck his tongue in his cheek. Taehyung had said ‘stalks’, and not ‘stalked’. It could’ve been a slip of the tongue, but he still felt a trickle of fear that it remained a problem.

 

“He chases me,” he explained, voice shaking, “into- into a blizzard.”

 

Jungkook froze. 

 

“I usually die there, alone.”

 

‘Taehyung! I won’t let you die!’

 

Visions of nightmares rushed Jungkook’s mind with a sudden force, recalling the dream he had the day he met Taehyung. It was like he had forgotten the horrible thing had ever happened, as if he had pushed it from his mind to protect his image of Taehyung when he grew to like him more and more. Blood on Taehyung’s lips, tears in his hopeless eyes, green light flickering to darkness... Jungkook thought he might be sick at the thought.

 

His heart raced as he considered telling Taehyung he had visited his dreams before they even really knew one another, but it didn’t seem like the right time to shake him up even further. He wasn’t the best with words to begin with, and he had no words to explain how utterly fearful he felt of the dream becoming a reality. 

 

Instead, he turned to Taehyung, committing his soft, glittering profile to memory under the white LEDs, his eyes sparkling with the reflection of the artificial galaxy above them. It seemed Taehyung had wanted to lose himself in the stars as much as Jungkook did. 

 

Condensing moisture in the air, Jungkook flicked his ice shards across the painted sky, mimicking shooting stars as he normally liked. He heard Taehyung’s breath catch beside him at the display, flares of green and blue reflecting off the tiny stars as they traveled across the room. 

 

Jungkook continued to add shooting stars to Taehyung’s galaxy, whizzing them in spirals. He knew Taehyung hadn’t actually seen his true manipulation over ice yet, and he hoped it wouldn’t scare him away. 

 

Minutes ticked by, a feeling of calm overcoming Jungkook while Taehyung exuded an aura that slowly grew in warmth as they watched the stars side by side, and it wasn’t long before he heard the staccato of breaths transition into a steady lull. Glancing in the Spring’s direction, Jungkook saw with a tinge of satisfaction that Taehyung had finally fallen back into what seemed to be a more restful sleep. 

 

He quietly rebuilt the wall of pillows between them, air leaving his chest as he laid back down, only to jump when Taehyung suddenly dismantled the wall with far too much precision for someone supposed to be sleeping. The Spring inched closer to Jungkook across the sheets, just enough to curl his fingers around the Winter’s bicep. 

 

Jungkook smiled at his ceiling, almost relishing the smolder along his arm. There was no question about it.

 

For Taehyung, he’d get burned any day.

Chapter Text

‘74’.  

 

The number sat in red lettering at the top of Jungkook’s critique paper, the abrasive color blaring at him like a fire engine. Sitting unmovingly on his stool in the painting studio, he stared down at it with contempt. He wanted to tear the stupid thing to shreds, or maybe freeze it and chuck it like a frisbee, but he held back in the presence of his painting professor. 

 

Jungkook’s last assignment had been to paint a close-up of an object of significance to him. After racking his brain for weeks, he had settled on painting the facets of his grandfather’s sapphire ring, finding beauty in the countless blues that existed in the stone. When he had completed his oil painting, he had actually been quite happy with it, normally feeling impartial to what resulted from his school assignments, but this one had ended up realistic enough.

 

‘Too monotone’ was scrawled in cursive next to the color theory block on his rubrik. Jungkook wanted to scream. How could he use more colors in a painting of a literal blue gemstone? Not to mention the small fact that his eyes also gravitated towards all shades of blue in a way that was out of his control. But shouldn’t that have worked to his advantage in this case?

 

“Uh, Professor,” Jungkook asked all the politeness he could scrounge up, catching the attention of the short woman, her spectacles low on her nose. “Could you please explain to me what exactly I could change about this to improve next time?”

 

With a huff, she took the paper from Jungkook’s hand aggressively, scanning it with her pink eyes for a moment before handing it back to him. 

 

“This is a gemstone,” she said simply, glaring at him over her bronze-rimmed glasses. 

 

Jungkook raised a brow. “Um, yes.” 

 

“And what do gemstones do?”

 

Gulping, Jungkook’s brain felt empty as he scrambled for the answer she was looking for. “They… look pretty? Bring joy to others? Were once used for currency?” 

 

Sighing, the woman sat at her desk chair, the old leather creaking beneath her. “Sure, all of those are explanations. But what do stones cut like this actually do?”

 

This is so damn irritating, just answer the question. “I don’t know, shine?” he responded in a frustrated tone. 

 

The woman finally smirked. “Precisely, meaning they refract light. Light comes in many wavelengths of color, Jeon. I didn’t see enough of them present in yours.”

 

Jungkook clenched his fist, wrinkling the edge of his paper. He had spent night after night painstakingly completing the assignment, trying his hardest to convey every tiny detail he saw in the gem. It wasn’t his fault the winter running through his veins screwed with just about everything in his life. 

 

In fact, lately he had wished more than ever he could just rip the cold out of him and do away with it completely. It may have been an integral part of him, but it was proving to be a nuisance more than anything.

 

Especially on the recent occasions in which he and Taehyung would get exceptionally close. After the night last week when they had danced at the party and slept beside each other, it seemed they were both uncertain about what lines they could cross. 

 

The vague affection in their friendship seemed to be more prominent, even without explicitly saying so; at least Jungkook thought it was evident in their subtle actions that just so happened to occur over and over.  Maybe side by side at the stove making dinner or getting ready by the sink, there was always a brush of clothed arms or an accidental tap, never addressed but definitely acknowledged. 

 

Sometimes it was a little more obvious, when Taehyung would lean his head against Jungkook’s shoulder while they watched a show together, falling asleep on him occasionally. Or, even more recently, they would work on assignments in the same room, sometimes switching between Jungkook’s or Taehyung’s sides, sketching in comfortable silence or complaining about irrelevant class problems to each other. By the end of the night, they’d always inevitably end up closer than they had started, maybe on the same bed with Taehyung’s legs thrown over Jungkook’s, or back to back on the floor. 

 

The magnetic pull between them was significant, and more often than not, Jungkook found they were colliding.

 

But no matter how close they became, it didn’t ever seem to be enough. Thoughts of their dancing at Hoseok’s party often invaded his mind when he least expected it, slamming him with heat even when Taehyung wasn’t around. It was Jungkook’s cold that always prevented them from moving forward. Where ‘forward’ was, he wasn’t sure, but the barricade was annoying enough anyway.

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook mumbled to his professor, unsure of how to formulate an excuse without revealing too much about his Winterborne tendencies. “I tend to be, um.. drawn to blue. I promise I’ll work harder next time.”

 

Before he could get scolded further, Jungkook abruptly abandoned the conversation, excusing himself to flee. Disappointment prickled through him as his feet automatically carried him to his dorm, enticing his cold into a whirlwind of internal stress. 

 

How was he supposed to pass a class when he had done exactly what was asked of him, and still managed to nearly fail? He couldn’t change his eyesight, and he had poured his heart into that piece. Hearing that all his work had been for naught was like a blow to the gut. 

 

It wasn’t the first time Jungkook had run into issues with leaning towards cooler shades in his artwork, though most of his professors during his time as an undergraduate were able to discern his preferences by his eye color. During his graduate studies, however, there was no room for less than perfection so far, meaning Jungkook had to force his brain into seeing colors that were subdued to him. 

 

Yeah… because that’s possible. 

 

Sighing, Jungkook entered his dorm, surprised to find Taehyung on his side of the room already. The Spring usually made himself at home when Jungkook was present, but he had yet to actually see him take the initiative himself. 

 

“Hey Kookie.” Taehyung didn’t bother looking up from the notebook he drew in, brow furrowed as he mixed colors together. He wore Jungkook’s black hoodie, the long sleeves extending to his palm. The sight had Jungkook’s stomach teeming with warm butterflies. 

 

He raised his eyebrows as he smirked, dropping his bag onto the floor beside his desk. “I see someone made himself comfortable?” 

 

Taehyung shrugged, opting not to answer, his eyes unmoving from his work. A dusting of red spread over his cheeks.

 

Alright then, Jungkook conceded. He secretly may have liked that Taehyung was comfortable enough to spend so much time on his side or borrow his clothes without asking. It was their shared home, after all.

 

With a grunt, the Winter sat on the floor against the side of his bed, a leg stretched out in front of him with an arm thrown over his bent knee. He tipped his head back, staring at the ceiling as much as he was able. It was hard not to let a frown slowly grow on his face as he replayed his conversation with his professor in his head repeatedly. All that effort, all that work wasted. It killed his motivation to start the many other projects slowly creeping up on him. 

 

He heard Taehyung shift on the bed, likely moving into a different position. And really, all Jungkook wanted to do was touch him, to lose himself in Taehyung’s warmth for a little while, at least to forget about his stupid assignment for a moment. It didn’t help that for the same reason he couldn’t touch Taehyung, he also could barely pass his painting class. The cold was frustrating beyond belief.

 

“So,” Taehyung said, Jungkook noting his voice had moved far closer to his head. “When are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?”

 

Jungkook raised his eyebrows, eyes still flicking over his ceiling. He hadn’t breathed a word of his woes to Taehyung yet, and he had thought he wasn’t acting too out of the ordinary. So how did Taehyung know…?

 

“Why would you say something’s bothering me?” Jungkook asked, genuinely curious if he was that obvious. 

 

There was a momentary silence before Taehyung spoke. “Just an inkling, I guess.” It sounded like a half-assed explanation, but Jungkook took it anyway. 

 

“My professor almost failed me for using too much blue,” he said quietly, staring at the wall. “I don’t know how the fuck I’m supposed to not see blue when it’s built into my DNA.” His cold roared in his chest in response, almost as if it were offended by Jungkook’s statement.

 

Taehyung was silent again, and Jungkook almost turned around to see if he was paying attention before he nearly jumped from his skin. 

 

Warm fingers threaded through his hair, their movements careful not to touch the base of his scalp. Jungkook’s hair had grown quite long lately, and fluffy to boot, so Taehyung had plenty of material to work with. His heart skipped at the comforting touch, feeling warm and cared for at the attention, especially when the vanilla he had come to look forward to snaked down his throat. 

 

“That’s ridiculous,” Taehyung said in an annoyed tone, hands fluffing at Jungkook’s hair to match his irritation. “I saw that project up with the others in the hall, it was incredible. You blew everyone else completely out of the water.” 

 

Blushing, Jungkook felt his heart swell at Taehyung’s defensiveness of him. It was nice to hear someone understood he had tried his hardest. 

 

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now,” Jungkook confessed, voice sadder than he usually let on. Something about Taehyung always coaxed him into sharing the more genuine parts of himself, including his own harsh self-criticism. “Honestly, I feel like a huge failure. I know it’s absurd, since I’m doing decently in every other class, and my sketches are always approved, but the thought of losing my scholarship...” he trailed off, biting his lip.

 

Taehyung’s fingers stilled for a moment at Jungkook’s words, resuming only after a few breaths. A comfortable silence enveloped them for awhile as Taehyung worked a steady rhythm into Jungkook’s dark mess atop his head. The Winter let his eyes flutter shut, nearly purring at how good it felt as Taehyung’s fingertips sent tiny sparks of pleasure down his spine. It seemed like too much enjoyment from a simple touch, but Jungkook chalked it up to it simply being Taehyung. 

 

“You usually work in the studio, except for papers and sketches, right?” Taehyung asked suddenly, taking Jungkook off guard. 

 

He blinked. “Uh, yeah, why?”

 

A breathy exhale was heard from close behind him. Jungkook glanced up without moving his head too much, afraid of bumping against Taehyung’s bare skin. He caught a glimpse of the blonde lying down on his stomach, his smushed cheek resting on his palm while his other hand mused through Jungkook’s hair. 

 

Taehyung was close, so close. And so comfortable. The proximity felt almost perfect. 

 

“Have you considered possibly working on them at home instead, just to get a change of scenery?” Taehyung suggested. “From my own experience, I’m kind of a homebody. You seem to be that way too, hence our current location,” he giggled. Jungkook snorted in response. 

 

“Maybe you’re more comfortable branching out when you have the freedom to be yourself in a space that you control. Working in a studio presents conditions that can vary, but there’s consistency working in a place you’ve made your own.” 

 

Jungkook had not expected Taehyung to offer advice beyond calling his circumstances unfortunate. Traditionally, he had worked in the studio simply because he was afraid to make a mess in his dorm, but now his dorm had become a canvas in itself. It wouldn’t hurt to at least try changing up his surroundings.

 

It also occurred to him that working in the dorm also meant yet another opportunity to spend time with Taehyung, but that wasn’t the point, right?

 

“Yeah, okay,” he breathed quietly, leaning back a bit into Taehyung’s soothing touch. “I’ll give it a shot.”

 

~  

 

 

A few days later, Jungkook found himself on the opposite side of his dorm room, lounging in Taehyung’s bean bag chair. The sound of his pencil was grating as he scribbled out yet another failed idea for his next painting project. 

 

“What the hell, it’s just all blending together,” Taehyung groaned, angrily swirling various greens and browns on his glass palette. He stood before the mural on his wall, dressed in clothes so splattered, it looked like he had rolled in open cans of paint. “Please tell me what sadistic demon possessed me when I decided to paint trees.”

 

Jungkook grimaced. At any other time, he would have laughed at Taehyung, but it was Saturday evening and they had both been working tirelessly since the morning. He wasn’t even sure Taehyung had eaten that day. 

 

In fact, Jungkook noted that Taehyung had only been doing homework when they spent time together recently, sometimes so focused he barely responded when spoken to. The Winter was an overworker himself, but not to the length Taehyung was taking it. It wasn’t healthy.

 

“Don’t you think it’s time for a break?” Jungkook asked carefully, hoping the implication of Taehyung exhausting himself got across. His own sketching had been rather fruitless so far as well - attempting to plan something that didn’t involve blue for his painting class had proven downright agonizing.

 

To his dismay, Taehyung shook his head. “There’s just too much to do.” Browns mixed together mindlessly under his brush, the separated colors blending into a mess. “Plus, this mural isn’t optional for me as a painting major.” 

 

Jungkook watched his motions intently, brow furrowed at the unusual lack of focus Taehyung was exhibiting. It wasn’t like him to seem so lost while doing something creative when it was usually quite the opposite. 

 

Something about focused, driven Taehyung tapping into his mysterious creative source was fascinating to Jungkook. Even when they had disliked each other early on in the school year, he had always admired Taehyung’s ability to lose himself so fiercely in his creations. 

 

Jungkook often felt teleported off the planet when doing something artistically enjoyable as well, but Taehyung usually exuded a perfect balance of finesse and sincerity when he worked, as if he couldn’t help throwing his very existence at the canvas and hoping it stuck. In most cases, it usually did. More than often, Jungkook was floored by Taehyung’s impressionistic style, a perfect contrast in every way to his own leanings toward realism.

 

But right now, Taehyung was all but launching himself at the wall, and none of it was sticking. 

 

Taehyung’s leg bounced anxiously as he sat in his desk chair, a smear of green paint on his cheek. He seemed almost jittery facing the wall, the nerves spreading like wildfire to Jungkook and causing him to constantly lose focus on his own work. Jungkook chewed on his lip, barely able to look at his notebook anymore as his attention kept swinging back to the jumpy blonde and the citrus scent he exuded. 

 

“Let’s stop for tonight.” Snapping his notebook shut, Jungkook stood up, stretching his achy muscles. The sun was about to set and they had skipped lunch. His stomach was ready to eat itself. 

 

Eyes still glued to the unfinished wall, Taehyung ignored Jungkook, anxiety practically rolling off of him. The sharp smell made Jungkook scrunch his nose. 

 

“Are you even listening?”

 

A wave of the hand answered him. “I’m fine, Jungkook”. 

 

Taehyung was not fine. He was a pale, hungry mess who was making no progress on any of his work. If it were possible, Jungkook thought he was making negative progress by forcing himself to focus for so long.

 

The Winter could almost feel the stress and tension in his own body, as if Taehyung was dumping the negative emotions into his own consciousness. He grit his teeth, unsure of how to break him from the trance. Cold swam in his veins, its eagerness to escape only heightened by the shitty feelings Taehyung was pressing on him.

 

If he couldn’t break Taehyung out of his misery, he’d sure have a hell of a time dealing with the rising power within him. 

 

Taehyung reached for his brushes with a shaky hand, ready to grab a larger brush, when the entire cup cased over in ice. The Spring startled for a moment before spinning to Jungkook instantly, eyes brimming with shock and accusation. 

 

“That's enough, Tae,” he said with all the gentleness he could muster, the nickname flowing easily from his mouth. He hadn’t actually used Taehyung’s shortened name since their drunken extravaganza, and it was clear on Taehyung’s face that he hadn’t expected to hear it. Red mixed with the green paint on the blonde’s cheek, his scent finally softening the tiniest amount. 

 

Releasing the icy prison on Taehyung’s brush set, Jungkook strolled to the bathroom, moistening a washcloth under the tap. When he returned, he found Taehyung staring at the ground, exhaustion apparently taking the place of his previous rigidity after Jungkook had finally broken his focus. 

 

The Winter squatted down in front of Taehyung to look up at his green eyes, surprised when he found them alight with a tinge of veridian. With caution, Jungkook brought the damp cloth to Taehyung’s cheek, calmly wiping away the paint that lingered there. “What’s wrong, Tae?” he asked softly, his gaze flickering dimly with blue in response to Taehyung’s own green.

 

Taehyung took a shuddering breath as Jungkook prepared himself for the impending avalanche. “I just- I have so much to do, and the deadlines, but I can’t fail, I can’t- there’s too much at stake, and I wonder if I’m doing something wrong.” The Spring’s eyes were wild, rapidly darting between the features of Jungkook’s face as he nodded, allowing Taehyung to word vomit as much as he needed. 

 

“There’s just so much, Jungkook, it’s too much. I can’t handle it all, I feel like I’m breaking. I feel like everything will be ruined and- and that I’m going to end up hurting-”

 

“You’re okay,” Jungkook said simply, depositing the cloth after having finished wiping Taehyung’s face. It was well understood to him by now that he had to curb Taehyung’s anxious spirals before they went too far. He covered his hands with the sleeves of his cardigan, bringing them to Taehyung’s cheeks. Searing heat angrily tried to break through the material to his skin, but Jungkook was more than accustomed to the near burn, he even welcomed it.

 

The green eyes staring down at him went as wide as they were able as Jungkook unceremoniously smushed Taehyung’s face in his hands. “Now you listen to me, Kim Taehyung.” A toothy grin split Jungkook’s face at the ridiculous display in front of him. “Not only are you an incredible artist, but you’re never going to end up a failure. The only thing you’re doing wrong is not taking care of yourself.” 

 

He felt his heart soften as emotion rose to sparkle in Taehyung’s eyes. “You can’t function this way. I don’t care if I have to make your room a replica of Antarctica, you need to slow down.” 

 

Taehyung furrowed his brows in mock anger over his squished cheeks, causing Jungkook to belly laugh at the sight. How his roommate managed to look so damn cute all the time was beyond him. 

 

He probably shouldn’t have been thinking Taehyung was cute at all, but it was hard to deny the factual truth when it was in front of you. 

 

“I’m serious, I will force feed you, even if it’s cup noodle stir fry.” Taehyung’s smushed cheek bones moved upwards with difficulty, his eyes turning to small crescents as he giggled lightly. Relief flooded Jungkook at his smile, feeling even better when he noticed Taehyung’s aura finally began to shift back to the warm vanilla. 

 

Releasing Taehyung’s face, Jungkook put his elbows on his knees, still staring up at Taehyung’s perfect profile almost in reverence. It truly wasn’t fair that Taehyung somehow managed to look good at every angle. 

 

“Look at us,” the Winter said with a snort, shaking his head. “We’re a pair of stereotypical, idiot students having mental breakdowns every other day.” 

 

Taehyung huffed a breathy laugh, sending Jungkook a small, warm smile. It made Jungkook feel fuzzy to be the source of Taehyung’s laughter. 

 

“Now you get on that bed and relax,” Jungkook said with insistence as he rolled up his sleeves. “Leave food to me. I wasn’t trained by Jin for nothing.”

 

“Fineeee,” the blonde whined, slowly standing from the seat he had been sitting in all day with a groan. “You win this time.” Taehyung began to pick up his mess, gathering his palette and dirty brushes to be washed. 

 

Jungkook left him to his devices, proceeding to dig through the kitchen for something adequate enough to feed them both. He found enough ingredients for omelettes, but wasn’t sure if Taehyung would be fan of breakfast for dinner. 

 

“Hey, Tae?” he called, pausing as he waited for an answer. There was no response.

 

Exiting the kitchen, he peered around the corner of the dividing wall.

 

“How do you feel about some lame oml-”

 

Jungkook felt his breath catch in his throat. Taehyung was standing at his wall of windows, peering out at the setting sun over the hills. At Jungkook’s return, he turned his head around, sending him an excited smile.

 

“Did you see this, Kookie?” he gushed, pointing to the medley of colors through the panes. “The sunset tonight is brilliant, like ridiculously brilliant. I can’t believe the sky is even capable of this!” 

 

Reds, blues, pinks and purples bled around Taehyung’s form, as if centralized around his figure, splaying out into the sky in his vicinity. Jungkook felt as if he were being tugged through a time warp, the scene incredibly reminiscent of the first time he had ever encountered the Springborne on the rooftop of the watchtower, when the sun’s array of colors had kissed his tanned skin in every way imaginable. His mouth went dry at the sight. 

 

Taehyung was an angel with wings of flame. They were wings of every color, so tangible and realistic that Jungkook could have sworn they existed in their very room. He wanted to reach for them, every cell in his body enticed in the same way Taehyung always lured him like a magnet. There were colors Jungkook had never seen at such a vibrance, the entire rainbow available to him through Taehyung. 

 

It was funny, Taehyung had spent the day struggling to create art, but Jungkook was suddenly convinced that Taehyung was art. 

 

Art was getting lost in a maze of twists and turns on one’s own path of creativity, the challenge sometimes a welcome adventure. Creation was the journey, his finished product the destination. 

 

As Jungkook stared at Taehyung, the colors emanating from him enrapturing, the world drowned itself out in precisely the same way it did when he got sucked into his artwork. The scene took his breath away as an inferno filled him to the brim, eradicating any worries from his mind. Taehyung had never looked more beautiful, the features of his side profile both soft and chiseled, his proportions too close to perfection, his golden locks a radiant halo as the sun shined through. 

 

Colors beyond blue swarmed his vision, their conceptualization a journey he felt he had spent his whole existence waiting for, the destination some magnificent piece he longed to visualize. 

 

Taehyung gave him a curious look as Jungkook rushed for his notebook, flipping it to a random page and scribbling a sketch down at a breakneck pace. The tears in his eyes went ignored, warm droplets cascading onto the page in front of him. 

 

Head bent over the book as his pencil flew, Jungkook’s cerulean vision wavered to a shimmering, radiant gold.

 

He didn’t see Taehyung’s face pale, his expression falling immediately at the foreign light.

 

He only saw a winged Taehyung, bathed in color as he worked to empty his mind onto the paper.

 

Jungkook was born to create, and without a doubt, Taehyung was now his best and brightest inspiration.

 

~

 

It was snowing quite hard, Jungkook noted, as he made his way back from dance class. He was grateful he remembered his navy jacket this time, purely to protect his clothes from getting wet. The cold itself wasn’t a bother, of course. 

 

He also noticed it was peculiarly dark for a landscape that was supposed to be covered in white, the hills in the distance extra shadowed today, but Jungkook assumed his exhaustion was responsible. 

 

Truthfully, he couldn’t wait to go back to the dorm and get warm, not because he was freezing in the snow, but because he never stopped looking forward to being under the influence of Taehyung. It was a little overwhelming how addictive the Spring’s presence had become, but he wasn’t particularly concerned about the logistics at the moment, not with Taehyung waiting for him. 

 

Approaching his dorm building, his attention was caught by a strangely parked car in the nearest lot, it’s lights flecked with the constant shadows of heavy snowflakes. It seemed to be running idle, exhaust spewing into the air in puffs. 

 

The lights cast on Jungkook felt quite bright, maybe a little too bright for a regular car. He blinked at them again, their strength aggravating as he tried to navigate across the sidewalk while blinded by their oppressive radiance. 

 

A pair of shadows passed in front of the beams of light, sheltering Jungkook from the glare for a few seconds. Taking the opportunity to actually get a good look at the vehicle, he noticed the shadows that had crossed his path were actually struggling against one another. 

 

A fight? His heart raced, wondering if it was some sort of stupid altercation or a real assault. Typically, Jungkook was inclined to stay out of the drama around campus, but with no one else around, he felt compelled to at least investigate this particular commotion. 

 

Before he was able to make out the figures with his sight, an incredibly sour citrus scent assaulted Jungkook’s senses, nearly causing him to gag as it poked and prodded at his skin like small needles. 

 

He stopped abruptly, heart stuttering for several breaths. That scent wasn’t anything new. In fact, it was all too familiar. 

 

Taehyung

 

His mind was static as he ran for the two figures while they fought in front of the car. Taehyung was trying to break free of the arms of an older man, lashing out with his legs and struggling with all his might, biting and clawing in a desperate attempt to flee. 

 

Rage pulsed through his veins as Jungkook’s eyes sparked into the brightest of fires. Taehyung was in danger, he needed him.

 

Jungkook had left him last time, but he wasn’t about to make the same mistake. 

 

“Taehyung!” Skidding to a halt, Jungkook threw himself between the enemy and the blonde, his knuckles white as he ripped the arms of the man away. The figure was strong, but Jungkook was stronger, overpowering their grip. 

 

Taehyung finally broke free, stumbling into Jungkook who immediately moved the panting blonde behind him, pulling Taehyung close while the Spring’s fists curled into the material of the jacket on his back. 

 

“K-kookie,” Taehyung croaked, voice quivering in fear. “What the fuck is happening?” 

 

Jungkook squeezed Taehyung’s clothed hip behind him in reassurance. “No idea, but you’re safe with me.” 

 

More faceless figures appeared slowly, surrounding them with what looked like gem encrusted chains in hand. It seemed ridiculously antiquated, Jungkook thought while cocking his head to the side. If they really wanted to threaten, wouldn’t guns be more effective? 

 

Although upon further inspection, there was something uniquely predatory about the dark squadron, a little scarier than the threat of firearms. Regardless, Jungkook was confident he could freeze them all where they stood, especially at the prodding of Taehyung’s fearful metallic and citrus scent. 

 

Except when Jungkook flicked a finger to unleash the full power of his icy attributes, the surrounding air was unresponsive. He tugged at the elements of water and cold, working his jaw as he attempted to shove them into their imaginary compartment to come out as ice at Jungkook’s command. 

 

Not even a flicker of cold acknowledged him. 

 

In fact, none of his powers seemed present or accessible externally. It was as if the cold simply existed within him, but no longer felt the need to rise to the surface. It was just… there. 

 

“My powers,” he whispered urgently to Taehyung, his heart beginning to race. “They're- they're not there. I don’t know what’s happening.”

 

The iron grip on his back tightened, Taehyung’s tension thick in the air. The faceless figures had begun to approach, slowly creeping up on them with the strangely regal-looking chains. 

 

Frustration and fear pounded through his mind as he called for his power repeatedly. The cold felt like it was right on the surface, still sweeping over his cheeks, but he couldn’t manipulate it at all. 

 

Jungkook was powerless. 

 

“It’s about time we’ve finally met,” a sharp voice sounded from behind them. Jungkook whipped around, arms still around Taehyung as much as he was able. There was a sharp intake of breath from the wide-eyed Spring at the voice, his body beginning to shake violently in Jungkook’s hold. 

 

Without a second thought, Jungkook pulled Taehyung to his chest, burying his face into his shoulder. Obviously, the man terrified Taehyung, so much so that he shook with panic. Seeing such a reaction infuriated him on Taehyung’s behalf. No one should be allowed to torment him this badly.

 

Jungkook was going to be very surprised if this wasn’t Taehyung’s stalker. 

 

Wind howled as he stepped closer, his face blurred by the falling snow. “You’ll be coming with us,” the man said plainly, the circle surrounding them growing tighter. 

 

“Like hell I’ll let you take him,” Jungkook spat, eyes blazing with cerulean rage as he tightened his grip around Taehyung. Even without his powers, he wouldn’t let anyone put a finger on the Spring. He wasn’t leaving Taehyung again, not ever.

 

The man laughed, a grating sound in the cold air, as he glared at the pair with contempt. “I’m not just here for the Spring prince.” 

 

Taehyung stilled in Jungkook’s arms, body going rigid at the term. Jungkook tipped his head to the side in his habitual signal of confusion. The words sounded vaguely familiar, but not enough to ring any immediate bells. Nails dug into Jungkook’s arms where Taehyung gripped for his life, the Spring seemingly ready to snap in two as his head whipped around to glare at the man.

 

Such rage from Taehyung was unusual. It was terribly unnerving.

 

“You said you wouldn’t fucking touch him,” the Spring growled deeply, voice so sharp with a violent edge that Jungkook nearly flinched. It sounded nothing like the Taehyung he knew. 

 

And if Jungkook had thought he was angry before, nothing compared to the sheer fury Taehyung nearly blasted him with through his scent, his emotions intertwining with Jungkook’s to the point where they were almost indistinguishable. He grit his teeth as pure hatred that didn’t belong to him ran rampant in his chest. 

 

More laughter rang from the man. “Waiting can’t win this war, Kim Taehyung. You and your father know that very well.” 

 

“We had a deal, Lucas,” Taehyung spat through gritted teeth, glaring with vibrant eyes at the threat surrounding them while the shadows slowly inched closer. 

 

They were cornered like animals, powerless and shaking. Jungkook was going to be sick, pulse spiking as the walls closed in. Head whipping around wildly, his eyes flared as anxiety burned his throat. 

 

He was useless. He couldn’t protect Taehyung, he had failed him again. How could he not save the one thing he cared about more than anything? 

 

The blonde head turned back abruptly, face alert as if Jungkook had called to him.

 

“Jungkook,” Taehyung said gently, his soft voice a ray of sun in the wrath of the raging blizzard. “Eyes on me, Kookie. Only on me.” Drawn by the tender voice, Jungkook looked to Taehyung, only to be filled with raw panic as the Spring’s bare hands approached his face. 

 

“No, don’t, you-!” He flinched hard as skin came into contact with his. 

 

There was warmth. Only warmth prickled on his cheeks where Taehyung held him, the softness of his thumbs rubbing circles the skin. 

 

Jungkook’s eyes blurred with warm tears while the sound around him quieted to nothing. It wasn’t possible. Taehyung- Taehyung was touching him. They weren’t being burned. 

 

Heat dragged its nails down Jungkook’s spine as the realization set in. 

 

They could touch. He and Taehyung were touching. 

 

Various colors rushed to his vision, the winter of the surrounding snowfall alight with new shades Jungkook had never known, though he only had eyes for Taehyung. Their contact changed everything. There was so much he wanted to do, so much he absolutely needed to do, everything felt so different now-

 

“Listen to me, Jungkook,” Taehyung said calmly, eyes burning like an inferno. Jungkook was distracted by the halo atop his head, the blonde blazing so bright in his distorted, multi-colored vision that he couldn’t focus. 

 

Their captors closed in, shackles moments away from Taehyung’s wrists. 

 

“I need you to wake up, okay?” the Spring asked sweetly as Jungkook watched blue slowly bloom on his skin. Tears ran from Taehyung’s eyes as he smiled at him, and Jungkook was puzzled as to why. “Don’t cry, Kookie. I’m here with you, I won’t leave you. You just need to wake up and this will end.” 

 

Jungkook shook, body trembling with raw desire, their deadly situation forgotten. Taehyung said to wake up, but they were touching, there was so much he wanted to do, so much needed with his skin on Taehyung’s. There were so many things...

 

“Baby, please,” Taehyung sobbed, blue welts coiling around his arms. “I’m safe, okay? Trust me. If you wake up, I’ll be safe. Please don’t make me do this.” 

 

No, we need this. Shaking his head, Jungkook wanted to shout at Taehyung. Didn’t he see what was happening, what he had wanted so much was coming true? How could he not be excited at their contact? 

 

Taehyung’s face fell, desperation in his expression as the shackles slowly closed around his wrists, his blazing green stare never leaving Jungkook’s. 

 

“I’m sorry, Jungkook, I’m so sorry I have to do this. Please wake up, I’m here waiting for you. Don’t be afraid.” 

 

Jungkook was afraid. He was afraid of the pain in Taehyung’s eyes as his cheeks slowly warmed under the comforting touch, and even more afraid when the heat didn’t stop like it usually did, instead growing into a painful sear. In a panic, Jungkook tried to pull Taehyung’s hands away, his palms burning as he grabbed at the Spring’s bare wrists, but Taehyung wouldn’t budge. 

 

It was agonizing, the hot touch of Taehyung’s power burning Jungkook’s face like a torch. His ice rushed to the surface of his skin, attempting to repair the damage or lash out at the invader, only to fall to the wayside as it was incinerated.

 

“It hurts,” Jungkook moaned as his eyes watered, the pain so horrific he wanted to cry out. Taehyung sobbed silently in front of him, golden cascades running down his face.

 

Gold?  

 

Taehyung was crying gold. The same bright color dripped from Jungkook’s eyes onto Taehyung’s iron-hot hands, droplets falling into the snow with a glimmer. 

 

It hurt. It hurt so fucking much when Taehyung brought his wings of sunlight around them, shielding them from the outside but burning Jungkook alive within. Fire was on his skin, his cheeks feeling like they were splitting in two, so much despair in Taehyung’s smouldering, golden eyes, the chains clinking shut on his wrists- 

 

Darkness swept in suddenly, destroying everything.

 

~

 

“You’re okay,” a muddled voice whispered as Jungkook’s consciousness trickled in drop by drop. His eyelids were weighed down, mouth cottony and limbs feeling as solid as a rock. Soreness was present on his cheeks. Everything was black and endless, but the sounds of a sweet, coaxing voice made colors that he could only dream of erupt in his mind. 

 

“Breathe, baby, please... breathe for me. You’re okay.” 

 

Breathing? He had forgotten what that was, but he should do that, right? Contracting his lungs, Jungkook tried to inhale, only to sputter as hot liquid choked him, the thick sensation obstructing the air in his throat. 

 

Jungkook sat up straight with a gasp, eyes flying open to find himself on his bedroom floor, tangled in his blankets. Warm, comforting hands flew around his shoulders to cling to his back, the weight around his neck the only thing assuring him he was still attached to the world. 

 

He blinked, the room dark as his pupils adjusted. 

 

Cold. It was cold. Freezing, even. 

 

Taehyung was shaking with his arms around his neck, shivering so much his teeth clattered. 

 

With a sharp inhale, Jungkook coughed violently into Taehyung’s shoulder, feeling liquid rise in his throat as he cleared his lungs. Splatters of dark color flecked on the navy shirt Taehyung wore, one of Jungkook’s own. 

 

His vision was strangely colored and he couldn’t make it stop. 

 

The walls were closing in, the faceless figures, the parking lot, Taehyung was out there, Taehyung-

 

Scrambling an attempt to stand, Jungkook was held down by Taehyung’s firm hold. “I’m here, Jungkook. I’m right here. I’m safe.” His voice was pained and exhausted, slapping Jungkook from his panic. 

 

His roommate was glowing with blue. It confused Jungkook, knowing he was supposed to only glow green, and only from his eyes. So why was his body so blue? 

 

Jungkook shivered as screams rang in his memory, reminded of the last time he had left similar azure welts on his skin. 

 

Taehyung… he was injured, injured by- 

 

“What did I do…?” Jungkook froze, barely able to suck down a breath. Nausea roiled in him as he caught glimpses of Taehyung’s bare skin. He grabbed Taehyung by the shoulders, suddenly pulling him away to look at the Spring’s body. 

 

Blue. Taehyung was covered in it, some across his face, some on his hands, and some likely beneath his clothing. 

 

He did this. He hurt Taehyung. He had unleashed his cold, he hurt Taehyung, he-

 

He was going to blow. The ice was going to explode from him like a volcano, it’s contents pushing on every seam his body had. It tormented him, threatening to burst his very veins open. 

 

Gritting his teeth, Jungkook knew he had to run, he had to escape, but his legs were so weak, and Taehyung, he had fucking hurt him, how could he have put Taehyung in danger? 

 

What had he done? 

 

“You need to run,” Jungkook groaned, barely able to speak in fear the ice would even overflow from his mouth. Every breath he managed to take seemed to hasten his outburst, the beats of his heart like the ticks of a time bomb. He wouldn’t make it outside. Taehyung needed to leave. Now. 

 

The Spring shook his head. “I’m not leaving you,” he said, the sincerity almost physically painful to Jungkook as sleeved hands rubbed over the searing burns lingering on his cheeks. “I’m not leaving you alone.” Taehyung looked at him with sadness and worry, but also with enough compassion to make Jungkook forget how to breathe. 

 

He wondered if Taehyung had always looked at him this way, if he had just been too caught up in his own self not to notice it.

 

Warmth, Taehyung’s warmth, hit Jungkook like a million stars then, sending cracks through his cold like shattered glass. It stroked the spine of his wintery beast, the kindness unwavering even before its snapping jaws. 

 

It made perfect sense to him. He could use the warmth, Taehyung’s warmth, to counter his own violent winter. 

 

But Taehyung had no idea his powers impacted him the way they did, or at least that’s what Jungkook was led to believe. Apprehension filled him at the thought of upsetting their blurred friendship by revealing the effects to Taehyung, but in this case, it was either come clean or endanger him when he exploded. 

 

Nails digging into his palms as he clenched his fists, Jungkook shifted to put his back against the side of his bed. He gripped Tahyung by his clothed arm, gently pulling the surprised Spring to straddle his lap. It was difficult to maneuver around their bare skin, but Jungkook didn’t give a damn with Taehyung hovering over him. 

 

He needed Taehyung’s power,now, and the closer they could get, the better.

 

“You need to calm down.” 

 

Taken aback, Taehyung shot him an incredulous look. “Uh, Jungkook… I don’t see how you’re in any position to make demands about being calm here.”

 

Jungkook wasn’t laughing. 

 

“Please Tae, be calm, be happy, be… I don’t know, be Taehyung. I just.. I need you right now,” he grit out, hands digging into the Spring’s sides with pressure. 

 

Quieting immediately, Taehyung stilled at Jungkook’s plea, his eyes flaring. “What do you mean… ‘need me’?” the Spring asked slowly. 

 

With a gulp, the Winter slammed his power to the balls of his feet, wrestling with it as it cried for release. Taehyung’s gaze followed the rise and fall of his throat.

 

“Your power,” he said in a strained voice. “The aura, it’s unreal.” Words were difficult as he poured his energy into wrapping more chains around the cold, every lock he had meticulously formed threatening to break all at once. 

 

Taehyung wasn’t moving, barely breathing as he gazed down at Jungkook with vibrant green light. “Explain.” 

 

He took a deep breath. “Your power counters mine,” Jungkook said simply. “When you’re happy, I can feel it. The warmth is...” he paused, unable to find a suitable explanation for something so desirable, so essential to his existence. “It soothes my cold better than anything.” 

 

Vanilla rushed over Jungkook at his words, the scent so strong, he wondered if Taehyung was shaped from it. It caressed the sharp shards of power in his heart shouting to be let free, pacifying his frigid affliction like a sedative. 

 

Swallowing thickly, Jungkook let his eyelids flutter shut as he deeply inhaled Taehyung’s perfect scent, leaving nothing held back as he greedily absorbed it. It was dizzying, desire curling through every vein in his body at having Taehyung on his lap while he smelled so strongly. On his tongue, in his nose, the aroma swarmed his senses. 

 

Heat struck him with a pleasurable sensation on the surface of his skin, the warmth so enticing that he bit his lip. As his cold was tempered, Jungkook’s eyes snapped open, meeting a blazing green gaze instantly. There were hands on his chest, moving rhythmically in a way that had every cell in his body ready to ignite.

 

“Your scent,” he breathed, chest rising and falling in a staccato as he worked to speak through the thick haze slowly enveloping them. “It’s-”

 

There weren’t words for Jungkook to describe the way Taehyung was looking at him, his blazing eyes sparkling with curiosity, as well as a darker, more enticing emotion Jungkook was having trouble placing. 

 

“What does my scent smell like to you?” Taehyung spoke, his voice lower than Jungkook had ever heard it. The deep tone sent shivers through him. 

 

“Lavender and chamomile, oranges and lemons when you’re upset,” he answered softly, unable to pull his gaze away from Taehyung’s. “When you’re happy, something like vanilla, but better than the kind you can eat.” 

 

Taehyung gave him a thoughtful look, parting his mouth to ask questions, only to eventually close it. A blush dusted his frostbitten cheeks, the soft red and blue mingling together like mixed paint.

 

“You- yours is pine cones,” Taehyung stuttered, words leaving him in a nervous fashion as he hovered over Jungkook. “When you’re upset, it smells like a bonfire.” The Spring’s green gaze flicked downward at the contact between the two of them. Fingertips marred with blue greeted Jungkook’s chest, their gentle drag sending wave after wave of heat through him. Jungkook thought he might be melting.

 

“When you’re like this,” he breathed, gaze flicking up to meet Jungkook’s and flooding him with warmth, “when you’re happy, you’re like cinnamon.” Taehyung’s tongue darted out to lick his lips, and Jungkook followed it with precision. “Like the first sip of spiced tea on a cold night.” 

 

Pine cones. Bonfire. Cinnamon. They were all some of Jungkook’s favorite scents, ones he would describe as close to his heart. Well, aside from Taehyung’s vanilla, which was quickly taking first place. 

 

Amazingly, the edge of the cold had been dulled to manageable levels by Taehyung over the span of a few moments, but Jungkook needed more at the revelation of their secrets. Every part of him cried out for Taehyung as if the cold couldn’t get enough of it, exacerbated by the Spring’s light touches, luscious scent and lidded green gaze. He took deep breaths, his eyes flicking to the many features on Taehyung’s perfect face, so beautiful in the dim lighting that he felt he couldn’t absorb them all at once. 

 

As if he had read his mind, the Spring moved his head forward, his clothed hands cupping the aching sides of Jungkook’s jaw. He felt warmth brush against his forehead as Taehyung brought their heads together, careful to keep hair between their skin with his green eyes closed. 

 

Taehyung’s perfect lips were just a hair away, so close that the tiniest movement would join them, that Jungkook could feel the heated puffs of breath on his own mouth. His heart stuttered, longing overtaking all room for reason as molten fire pooled in his gut. He wanted Taehyung to be closer, even though they were already on top of each other. They needed to get closer.

 

Abandoning any complicated thought and instead following his instinct, Jungkook let his hands slide down from their spot on Taehyung’s waist, finding purchase on the gentle curve of his ass. He kneaded the soft flesh as heated pleasure at the contact flowed through him, occasionally gripping it with a bit of force. It wasn’t fair how perfect Taehyung could be, his ass just the right amount of thickness in Jungkook’s firm hold as he squeezed tightly. 

 

A sharp intake of breath from the blonde had Jungkook’s chest sparking, his whole body feeling like boiling liquid. 

 

Taehyung slowly ran his sleeve-covered hands from Jungkook’s cheeks to his neck, blunt edges evident through the material as he dragged his fingernails over the Winter’s skin. They traced the route of Jungkook’s sharp jaw down to his collarbone, leaving a trail of sparks at every light scrape. 

 

The tingle had Jungkook groaning, gripping Taehyung by his narrow waist as he unconsciously rolled his hips upwards. The sudden contact between them jolted pleasure through him, a whine escaping from Taehyung’s throat. As if to anchor himself, the blonde held onto Jungkook’s shoulders at the motion, biting his lip between his teeth. Taehyung gazed down at him with a sultry look that made Jungkook’s head spin, his cheeks a messy, reddened flush highlighted with tinges of blue. 

 

He wasn’t sure who he was or where he was anymore. Jungkook only saw Taehyung, felt Taehyung and breathed Taehyung. Their shared pleasure was euphoric even through the limited, clothed contact, the heat bathing them in a decadent mix of cinnamon and vanilla that had Jungkook’s head reeling.

 

Another roll of the hips and Jungkook had Taehyung tipping his head back, his perfect jawline on display while the Spring grinded his hips down in a return of force. More whimpers flew from his lips when Jungkook gripped at his ass, pulling him impossibly closer. 

 

There was so much more he wanted to do with Taehyung like this, Jungkook thought, watching the Spring’s mouth part in pleasure after another roll of his hips. There were so many faces he had yet to see him make, so many sounds he hadn’t yet heard. 

 

It may have made him greedy, but he wanted them all. 

 

“J- Jungkook,” Taehyung whined softly. The name on Taehyung’s lips in such a wrecked tone had Jungkook groaning in response, nails digging deeper into the material of Taehyung’s pants. He wanted to rip the stupid clothing off and incinerate it.

 

As they rolled their hips in a rhythmic motion, breathing heated and labored, Jungkook unconsciously found himself gravitating towards the junction between Taehyung’s neck and collarbone, where the sweetest source of vanilla scent emanated. He needed Taehyung to feel the compassion behind his touches, to understand how much he wanted this, wanted him. He had to show him.

 

A breath more and Jungkook’s lips were brushing along Taehyung’s neck, the skin sweeter than anything on earth. He groaned with his mouth on the Spring’s pulse, colors flaring in the edges of his foggy vision. The burn of pleasure mingling on his lips was so incredible that he could shed tears at the feeling. 

 

Taehyung sucked in a sharp breath as he pulled away, his hand flying up to where Jungkook had touched him. It broke Jungkook from his magnetic pull in a flurry, the disruption of the haze that surrounded them startling him as he lurched back. Heat still lingered on the surface of his damp skin, but Jungkook felt the richest layers of vanilla in the air around him exchange for a citrus tang.

 

His attention was forced to examine the blue littering Taehyung’s perfect, tanned skin, a stark contrast to the darkness around him. Guilt threatened to suffocate Jungkook as he tried to recall what had just been happening despite Taehyung’s burns, how the Spring had just neutralized even his strongest cold, how the brushes of contact had swept him away so easily even while Taehyung was likely suffering and in pain. 

 

“Tae,” he breathed, chest heaving as reality rushed in to wrap its fingers around his throat. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened, I-”

 

The material of Taehyung’s sleeve touched his lips, the heat of a single finger prickling the light burns that lingered after he had kissed the Spring. Matching marks had begun to bloom on his neck, the pattern a ghost of Jungkook’s careless loss of control.

 

“You had a nightmare,” Taehyung started, face still flushed with a deep red. “I woke up to the room freezing. I couldn’t wake you, I tried everything, even rolled you out of bed.” He half-smiled at the ground, fingers rolling over the frayed seam of his sleeve cuff as he removed it from Jungkook’s mouth. “You didn’t wake up until I touched you.” 

 

Lifting a hand to his cheek, Jungkook sucked in a breath at the ghost of pain that lingered. The burns had felt like knives slicing open his skin, such an agonizing sensation that it still hurt just to imagine. 

 

“You were shouting for me, Kookie. Even in my dreams, I could hear you.” 

 

There was only muddied shadows in Jungkook’s memory as he attempted to recall what had happened in his nightmare, the details similar to one of Taehyung’s impressionist paintings. He remembered snow, and Taehyung, a particularly angry, growling Taehyung who had yelled in a rage about… 

 

“What’s a Spring prince?” 

 

Taehyung’s hand froze where it played with his sleeve. The Spring seemed to go rigid, tension gripping at his insides as Jungkook felt his fear bleed into the air. 

 

He looked up at Jungkook warily, the green flaring like a high beam. “Where did you hear that?” 

 

Jungkook furrowed his brows, striving to reach for images that slowly melted into nothingness. “My dream. I don’t remember why, but it was said.” The words ‘spring prince’ had a familiarity to them, but nothing of relevance. The more he picked through his brain, the further they seemed to flee from him. 

 

“Never heard of it,” Taehyung said, eyes leaving Jungkook’s to pin to his sleeve. It was suspicious to see him fidget.

 

Remaining unconvinced, Jungkook opened his mouth again to probe further, but the sudden sound of Taehyung hissing in pain made his stomach drop. Metallic citrus scent flowed through the air as the blonde lifted his shirt around the middle, revealing a large blue welt crossing his torso. 

 

Jungkook choked at the sight of Taehyung’s perfect, tanned skin marred with the harsh collision of cold. It was his fault, the injury was because of him. He had hurt Taehyung. It was so careless of him to unlock his powers unconsciously, the remorse from it nearly swallowing him whole. 

 

He was a damn idiot. 

 

Taehyung smiled at him wistfully. “God, stop. I can literally hear you blaming yourself from here.” The welt was obscured as Taehyung dropped his shirt again. “I’m fine, okay? It barely even hurts.”

 

Liar.  

 

An overwhelming desire to mend Taehyung rose in Jungkook’s gut as tiny bits of strength returned to his limbs. His roommate had pulled him from an awful and potentially dangerous nightmare while risking his own safety. Taehyung had thought about him, had cared for him enough to stay by him and comfort him even as his veins had threatened to burst with winter. The last person on earth, a pure Springborne, had put himself in harm’s way on his behalf. 

 

And everything else that had happened…

 

Cheeks flaring with warmth, Jungkook stood up with remarkable ease, surprised at how well Taehyung’s power had aided him. He was the tiniest bit shaky, but not weak enough to falter as he reached his arms below Taehyung’s knees and back, scooping up the startled Spring into his hold. 

 

“W-what the hell?” Taehyung shouted in alarm at the sudden loss of gravity, his arms quickly wrapping around Jungkook’s neck. 

 

As gently as Jungkook could muster, he laid the Spring on his sheets, taking care not to jostle him too much in fear of brushing his burns.

 

Taehyung raised his eyebrows, an amused look of disbelief on his face as his head hit the pillow, golden hair splaying around his perfect profile. “Did you really just pick me up to move me like two inches? Muscle kink much?” 

 

Huffing a laugh, Jungkook carded his fingers through the blonde’s hair with compassion. “Sorry, I just practically beat you up in my sleep,” he said with a sad smile. “At least let me be extra for a second.”

 

A fond look softened Taehyung’s expression at Jungkook’s words, his face still the lightest shade of red from the earlier inferno. “I promise, Kookie, I’m fine.”

 

Jungkook shook his head. “Stay here, I’ll be right back,” he murmured, almost possessed by the motive to care for Taehyung as he made his way to the bathroom. Exhaustion was heavy in his limbs, but Jungkook felt energized with his own shame as he filled a small basin with hot water, grabbing a cloth along with it.

 

Dunking the towel in the hot water sizzled at Jungkook’s cool skin, but he pushed it out of his mind as he brought the cloth to the frostburns along Taehyung’s face. The Spring released a long exhale at the contact, his eyes slowly closing as the shadows of Jungkook’s cold were chased away.

 

As Taehyung’s cheeks were slowly soothed, Jungkook eased the shirt off of his torso, biting his lip at the violent blue that lingered there. It was hard not to feel like a monster, especially not knowing exactly what he had done. He swallowed thickly, the regret nearly breaking him in two. 

 

“I’m sorry, Taehyung,” he whispered, gingerly adding more heat to the damp cloth as he worked it over Taehyung’s skin. “I’m sorry for hurting you.” 

 

Eyes opening slowly, Taehyung snorted from the bed, the hair from his messy blonde fringe flying into the air. “I’ll say it again: I’m fine. It looks a lot worse than it feels. You know I’m a drama queen.” Contrary to his words, the Springborne sucked in a sharp breath as Jungkook travelled with the hot cloth to the side of his ribs, soothing a fresh burn. 

 

“Yeah, totally fine,” Jungkook said sarcastically, bitterness on his tongue. Taehyung was so strong, far stronger than he would ever be. What gave him the right to be beside someone so selfless? 

 

Taehyung was flawless on the outside, but Jungkook thought it was even scarier how perfect he seemed to be on the inside. 

 

Working dutifully in silence, Jungkook’s mind spun as he replayed what had just happened between himself and Taehyung. It sent shivers straight through him as he recalled the soft flesh in his hands, or the feeling of the blonde rocking his hips against him. 

 

There was no question about it: things were changing between them. If the lines had been blurred before, they were definitely erased now. 

 

“You’re doing it again,” Taehyung said softly, green flare flickering in his eyes. 

 

Jungkook was puzzled, muscles freezing in fear. Was he pressing too hard on his wounds? Was he making the cloth too cold? He hurriedly removed his touch, afraid of injuring him further. 

 

“Not that, silly,” he admonished, reaching out to grab Jungkook’s sleeve and directing him back to his comforting motions. “Your- your scent. It was spiking with cinnamon just then.” 

 

Jungkook blinked, remembering for a moment that the strong scent thing went both ways as his cheeks warmed. The revelation was a bit jarring as Jungkook considered his awareness of the Spring’s scent since the day they met. Had his emotions always been as much of an open book as Taehyung’s because of it? 

 

“What does my happy aura feel like?” 

 

The question took Jungkook aback, not expecting Taehyung’s directness. 

 

“Uh..” he bit his lip, eyes focused on the blue along Taehyung’s ribs instead of the blaring green on his face. Heat swarmed him as he struggled to answer. “It feels… good.”

 

Taehyung’s prodding didn’t end, his bright gaze fixed to Jungkook’s side profile as he dropped his voice to an amused purr. “How good?” 

 

At his low voice, Jungkook felt his body go taught and break to pieces at the same time. If they had erased the lines, then this was a direct result of that. Taehyung was trying to lure him, and he wasn’t about to let the Spring win.

 

Two could play at this game.

 

“So good that it makes you grind on me like you were earlier?” Jungkook drawled with a smirk, attempting to appear cocky as he answered one question with another. Inside, his heart was ready to beat out of his chest. 

 

He couldn’t believe he was flirting with pain in the ass Kim Taehyung.

 

He couldn’t believe how much he liked it. 

 

Taehyung bit his lip, seemingly searching his mind for a retort. He was quiet for several seconds before releasing a surprisingly long sigh. 

 

“Yes.” 

 

Jungkook raised his brows. He hadn’t expected it to be this easy.

 

The blonde was staring holes into the dividing wall beside them. “Your aura is that good, Jungkook,” he confessed, voice so soft Jungkook had to watch his lips just to catch it. “Your scent is the best thing I’ve ever smelled in my whole life, and it’s getting to the point where it’s- it’s hard to be parted from it. From you.” 

 

The Spring took a shuddering breath, meeting Jungkook’s blazing stare with exhilarating fear in his eyes. “I don’t know what to do about it. It’s scary being attached to someone so quickly.”

 

Flushing, Jungkook’s hand stilled over Taehyung’s burns as the confession registered in his mind. The Spring’s vanilla was singing to him in the dim lighting, caressing his skin in the smallest whispers. It felt like Taehyung was on fire through the cloth between them. 

 

“I’m the same,” Jungkook said with a breathy exhale. “It's the same for me, it’s addictive now. I… you’re addictive,” he broke off, unsure of what he was even saying anymore. He wanted to run and bury himself for the rest of time at the admission, but Taehyung always had a way of coaxing his heart out of hiding. 

 

Heat from his own embarrassment mixed with the heat positively radiating from Taehyung, the Spring’s eyes small crescents as he smiled from where he laid on Jungkook’s dark blue sheets. The Winter ran the hot cloth against Taehyung’s neck, the small trail of his own longing evident as the Spring shivered beneath him. 

 

“You’ll get hurt, being close to me,” Taehyung breathed, hand rising to gently brush the hair away from the sapphire eyes piercing him. “I don’t want to hurt you.” 

 

Jungkook’s face twisted into a frown. “You’re afraid of hurting me? Look at you.” He gestured to the speckles of blue still lingering on Taehyung’s skin. “I feel so bad, I…”

 

Taehyung let his sleeve fall over his fingertips as he ran them down the side of Jungkook’s face, stopping to lightly cup his cheek. It felt right when Jungkook leaned into his touch, when Taehyung’s scent spiked at his reaction. Everything felt right when it came to Taehyung, other than when their skin came together. 

 

Even then, Jungkook sometimes found himself thinking he’d prefer the burn of Taehyung’s skin on his, rather than the burn of distance between them. 

 

Taehyung left his spot at Jungkook’s cheek to messily shake his dark hair. A smile split the Winter’s face at the silliness of it, his heart lifting at the boxy smile Taehyung returned. 

 

“You make me too happy,” Taehyung said in a hushed tone, his eyes both in pain and full of wonder as he keenly observed Jungkook. The mixed emotion in his voice had him perplexed, though he thought he could understand Taehyung’s plight. 

 

They were biological enemies, ready to end one another simply by being too close. But they were also quickly finding themselves unable to be parted. 

 

He abandoned the cloth after having soothed each of Taehyung’s burns, drawn to the empty space beside the Spring like it called to him. There wasn’t a question when Jungkook laid down close to the other, head tipping back into his pillow to stare at his ceiling. 

 

It had been so fast, so much was changing between them, but he welcomed it. Jungkook felt like his life hadn’t truly started until they had met, for better or for worse.

 

He turned to Taehyung, finding the Spring already staring at him, his eyes a beacon in the dark that surrounded them. 

 

It was like willingly falling from a cliff as Jungkook rolled to his side to take Taehyung’s sleeved hand, the touch sending sparks through him. 

 

And if he were truly falling, Jungkook didn’t bother looking down. 

 

Looking at Taehyung was enough. 

 

 

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:23 AM
fuck
fuck
fuck
Jimin
god you better be awake
please be awake

[Chimmy]
Friday, 2:25 AM
omg what
whats happening
oh my god kim taehyung
you saw his dick DIDNT YOU
GIVE ME THE TEA

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:26 AM
….what…
NO!!!
...tho if we couldve gone that far….
……..

 

[Chimmy]
Friday, 2:27 AM
W H A T ahdfpiauhjsdfiujansf
so it went somewhere? like… somewhere?
omg my babies are growing up T_T
ijust
i need a moment

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:29 AM
okay, thats not the impt thing here, please just listen for a sec chim
i ws right
its rly him
im so fcked

[Chimmy]
Friday, 2:31 AM
hold up, why dont i just call you?

 

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:32 AM
you cant
im kinda
right next to him
hes sleeping
im typng
with 1 hand
bc he holding the other
>.>

[Chimmy]
Friday, 2:34 AM
...youre in bed with jungkookie…
holding hANDS
i just screamed so loud i woke yoongi up thanks

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:36 AM
okay i got my hand back
but now i feel evil because he looks so sad :’(((
anyway
jimin
im freaking the f out here
they were gold
his eyes changed to gold
then earlier this night he had a nightmare and almost froze me to death
i had to wake him up by literally burning him
he was screaming for me chim
he was crying gold tears and i wiped them away before he woke up
I dont even think he knows theyre changing

[Chimmy]
Friday, 2:39 AM
shit…
shit shit shit you weren’t kidding
doesnt that mean you were right?

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:41 AM
thats not even all of it
he literally said
i was!
addictive!
he smells vanilla when i’m happy!!!!
we both smell good scents and didn’t know it!!!!!!!! !!
after i told him it was so hard for us to be apart AKIJODISJAFPDA;SIF
i cant believe i did that omfg
w t f do i DO with this information park jimin
its impossible for it not to be him
everything literally everything will change now
i didnt fucking want it to be like this
i havent been able to calm down all night
why does it have to be him…

[Chimmy]
Friday, 2:46 AM
okay tae, breathe
first of all, we know its jungkook
i mean, the suspicion has been there since the beginning
you guys are way too perf for it not to be

 

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:49 AM
this sucks so much
i like him so much chim
if i stay its only going to get worse
theres no way in hell theyll let this go if they find out

[Chimmy]
Friday, 2:52 AM
i know.. I know
we’ll come up with a plan
i need to tell yoongi all of this new info
but
you know as your best friend i would never lie to you
i will always give you the full truth
and i have to say...
i’ve never seen you this happy taehyung.
hes a stubborn snowball but hes so good for you
and jungkookie is a trustworthy person, i really think you should tell him
eventually he has a right to know
i dont think you can turn this back now

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 2:56 AM
I know… but…
the whole touching thing…
its actual torture jimin
i mean i know you have eyes so you can see liek
kookie is hot as hell, okay, it makes things difficult
we keep pushing shit and it just
every time it goes further
he burned me today in a um. sensual way????
neither of us even care tho, the aura is that strong
which is so fking terrifying bc I literally let someone hurt me
willingly (!!!!)
i cant stop thinking he deserves someone more compatible
i feel so selfish
but i cant stop
god what am i supposed to do

 

[Chimmy]
Friday, 3:01 AM
kim taehyung
if you selfsabotage this, i’m going to fight you
mark my words
jungkook is the most obvious kid on earth
hes 115% whipped for you tae. like literally anyone with eyeballs can see it
i dont think it will be easy, but we can deal with the details
if you try to part ways now, its gonna be really bad on both ends
and honestly
you deserve to enjoy this
youre both big idiots that I love more than anything

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 3:06 AM
i love you too chim <3
i’m so grateful to have you
i just feel like im in a corner here, you know?
i dont want to lose jungkook
but i also dont want to put him through this shit
i dont know what would feel worse...

[Chimmy]
Friday, 3:12 AM
he would want to go through this, taehyung
you need to remember hes still a person in there
a person that really cares about you
who would get really mad if you tried to handle this alone
i would also get really mad
you have people that love you and care about you
lean on us
please

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 3:16 AM
T_T
i know
its been a friken day..
i need to sleep on everything
but its so hard to sleep with him right here
WHY IS HE SO GOOD LOOKIGN CHIM AHY AHFAASDFJNLDSF

[Chimmy]
Friday, 3:18 AM
lol you need to sleep
seriously, itll all be fine
take it day by day
we’ll figure out how to deal with the assholes in the meantime
just focus on jungkookie
and his smokin abs
..dont tell yoongi i said that pls

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 3:22 AM
you’re not!
making this!
any easier!!!!!
(they are smoking hot ill tell you more about THAT tomorrow but omg)

[Chimmy]
Friday, 3:24 AM
i expect a full recount at 9 AM sharp kim
now get your ass to sleep
love you <3
everything will be fine

[Taehyungie]
Friday, 3:26 AM
sigh...
i hope so jiminie
ive never wanted anything to work out more in my whole short life
good night fam
tell yoongs i say hes a ho
or maybe dont i want to live
love you too <333

Chapter Text

The decadent scents of overly priced meals and expensive wine wafted around Jungkook as he sat at the bar, swirling a gin and tonic in front of him. He was appreciative that the area was still empty in the early afternoon, preferring to be left alone with his thoughts instead. The restaurant wasn’t his scene for sure, his clothing very clearly out of touch for such an upscale establishment, but the owners had grown used to seeing him by now. They had even become a little fond of Jungkook’s quiet, polite presence over the years, sometimes slipping him a spare sweet from the kitchen or saving him some extra mints from the lobby. 

 

Numerous plates on massive, shining trays were carried out of the swinging double doors, each meal lovingly handcrafted by the chef and his team. Jungkook had sampled a few of their famous dishes, always impressed by the meticulously prepared medley of flavors, although never fully satisfied. It might have been his simple personality, but he found he still preferred Jin’s home cooking over what the Summerborne procured for his day job.

 

The doors swung open to reveal a tall, strikingly good looking man in a typical white chef outfit. His friend looked exhausted as he sat down on a stool beside Jungkook, breath rushing from him in a huff. Jin yawned widely, head hanging as he sipped at his water. 

 

“You look dead, hyung,” Jungkook greeted. “Have you been sleeping alright?”

 

Jin grimaced, unusually spaced out as he stared at the bottles lining the back of the bar. “It’s just work.”

 

Unconvinced, Jungkook opened his mouth to inquire further when he was interrupted by Jin’s incredulous expression.

 

“You’re calling me exhausted? Have you checked a mirror lately?” 

 

It was Jungkook’s turn to grimace this time, still mindlessly swirling the contents of his drink as he rested his head on his palm. He had no excuses left in his arsenal but the default.

 

“It’s just- just school…” he murmured, fidgeting with his glass. He wished his only problems were his academics. It may have been true, especially with his painting class, but at least there were other students who had similar issues he could relate to.

 

Jungkook bet no one else alive could relate to his little problem with Taehyung.

 

“...Right,” Jin said suspiciously, eyeing Jungkook with a raised brow. “So… school. Is school perhaps blonde, around your height, face of a model, sort of a weirdo?” 

 

Jungkook wished he were a better liar as he took a long swig of his drink. He was going to need it to get through this conversation.

 

“Okay, yeah, you got me,” he said lifelessly. “It’s Taehyung.”

 

Smirking, Jin turned to him, gently kicking at Jungkook’s boot in a way that he knew got under his skin. “Ahh, Jungkookie, the trials and tribulations of romance. What can ole Seokjinnie do for you this time?”

 

Rolling his eyes, Jungkook sighed. “We.. uh, get along well,” he said lamely. He and Taehyung got along far better than just ‘well’ lately. After last week’s nightmare, things had been… different. 

 

And by different, he meant that they were almost constantly near each other at every opportunity, more than often touching one another just to be reassured of their presences or making eye contact for a few breaths too long. 

 

Jungkook was almost positive he and Taehyung hadn’t stopped glowing for five days in a row now. 

 

“Mhm,” Jin said with a smile, “getting along, huh? Well, I’m glad to hear that. So if you’re getting along, what’s the issue?” 

 

Inhaling deeply, Jungkook felt the ghost of burns on his lips from when he had kissed the skin of Taehyung’s smooth neck. It was frightening when he found himself thinking he’d do it again, given the opportunity. 

 

“It’s getting, um… a little difficult now,” he grit out. He was never one to talk about his love life, and just thinking about the… things happening between him and Taehyung was enough to make him turn beet red. 

 

Jin giggled, a look of sympathy on his face. “I’m guessing there’s some touching going on and your seasons aren’t happy, huh?”

 

Jungkook bit his lip, his silence enough of an answer. 

 

“Well, I know you’re quite practical Jungkookie, so I don’t have a perfect solution for you like you’d probably want. We both know that if there was a way to fix seasonal incompatibilities, I would have been the first to tell you,” Jin said kindly. “But what I can tell you is that if you truly care for Taehyung, it won’t matter. Even in its limited forms, love finds ways to heal things like this, even if it’s not the way you expect.”

 

Jin was right, it wasn’t the answer he wanted, but Jungkook still felt a little better hearing he was validated in his affection. 

 

Though he wasn’t sure if ‘love’ was the right word to describe what they had. Thinking of the term sent a thrill through Jungkook, but it wasn’t clear where Taehyung stood. Their powers might have been magnetic, and Taehyung may have admitted it was hard for them to be apart, but it didn’t mean he liked Jungkook when the powers were removed. 

 

“Do you I think I’m being selfish?” Jungkook asked, his voice barely a whisper. The condensation on the surface of his glass froze at his wavering emotions. 

 

Jin eyed him with surprise. “Selfish? Is that what you’re worried about?” 

 

When Jungkook didn’t reply, Jin burst into squeaky laughter. 

 

“Oh Jungkookie, please never lose your soft heart. You’re not spending time with Taehyung against his will, or doing any of the other activities I’m sure you happily partake in,” he said in an amused tone, wiggling his eyebrows as Jungkook flushed. “Taehyung is by your side because he wants to be there. I’m sure even if you told him you were leaving, he wouldn’t let you go.” 

 

Sighing, Jungkook couldn’t help but shrug. It was still almost unbelievable how close he had grown to Taehyung in a few months time, and he was still having trouble accepting their feelings of affection might be even somewhat mutual. Very few of his friendships had ever lasted long, and his luck felt too good to be true lately.

 

A hand clapped onto his shoulder, Jin squeezing it reassuringly. “Have faith in yourselves. If you want to have a relationship with Taehyung, or even a friendship, you have to believe in each other enough to try.” 

 

He believed in Taehyung, he was sure of that. 

 

But Jungkook didn’t necessarily believe in himself. 

 

Nothing about Taehyung made practical sense. They were supposed to be built to reject one another, and in many aspects, they did, but Jungkook was still incredibly confused as to why they also seemed built to lure one another. It was maddening thinking about the push and pull of their attraction, never clear where the other stood.

 

Desperate to change the subject, Jungkook latched onto the one thing he knew Jin would take to. 

 

“How’s Joon-hyung been?” 

 

At his words, an unusual frown appeared on Jin’s face, something almost never seen on the Summerborne. “Busy. Some days I never see him, because by the time he gets home from work, I’m already gone.” 

 

Jungkook’s brow furrowed. Just as he had seen Taehyung stressing, it seemed Namjoon was intent on an unhealthy workload as well. Jungkook thought he had done decently to pull Taehyung out of his last fog, but he didn’t have all the pieces of the Spring yet to solve the problem more efficiently.

 

It reminded him that there was still a lot he didn’t know about Taehyung. 

 

“Are you sure there’s nothing wrong with him? Could there be something that you don’t know about?” Jungkook inquired, hoping he wasn’t coming off as rude. The only experience he had to base anything off of was his tiny interactions with Taehyung. 

 

Jin smiled, his expression unsettling. It wasn’t a genuine smile, and he knew the Summerborne well enough to know that face was worse than a frown. 

 

“Namjoon doesn’t have to tell me everything,” he said. Jungkook thought it might be more to convince himself. “If I needed to know something, I’d know.”

 

Something told Jungkook that he wasn’t the only one feeling out of touch with people he cared about. Still, it didn’t comfort him to see his friends at any sort of odds with each other. 

 

“I know I’m the least qualified to say so,” Jungkook started carefully, “and I don’t know him better than you, but Namjoon really loves you. Even if there was something being… withheld, it definitely wouldn’t be to hurt you.” It wasn’t much, and he was terrible with words, but Jungkook was fully convinced Namjoon would throw himself in front of a bus before willingly hurting his partner. 

 

There was still a sadness in Jin’s posture as he gave Jungkook a small smile. 

 

“Thanks, Jungkookie. That means a lot coming from you.”

 

A somber atmosphere overtook them, highly atypical for the usually positive and joking pair. They both took long swigs of their drinks simultaneously, the silence heavy as Jungkook mulled over the existing problems between the two of them. Amidst his contemplation, Jungkook heard Jin release a soft snort. 

 

“We’re acting like fools,” he said with a shake of his head. “There’s no point in overthinking this. We just have to deal with it.”

 

Throwing back the bottom of his drink, Jungkook brought the glass to the counter with a loud tang. “You’re right, hyung,” he agreed verbally, forcing as much confidence into his tone as he could muster.

 

Internally, Jungkook couldn’t agree less. He couldn’t deal with being restricted from Taehyung, not with the magnetic pull between them, not with every cell of their bodies longing to spark fires on the other’s skin.

 

There might not have been an immediate solution, but he felt more than driven to make one a reality.  

 

~

 

The sky was a pale grey as Jungkook dragged a brush over his large canvas, tiny flakes falling beyond the windows of the vacant watchtower. It had gotten chillier lately as the seasons shifted from autumn to winter, the trees having shed their leaves in anticipation of their eventual revival. Normally, his body would have sang at the shift in weather, and he was admittedly a little more energetic with the snow falling, but after spending so much time with a certain Springborne lately, Jungkook found his desire for the cold to be waning.

 

There was no reason to be drawn to the bitter mint of winter when the ambrosial scent of spring was always clinging to his skin these days. It might have sounded a little pathetic, but Jungkook would bottle the aroma and douse himself in it if he could. 

 

Thankfully, he had Taehyung for that. 

 

It had been hard to begin painting his piece in an area other than the studio or his dorm, but after a lot of thought, he had chosen the watchtower as his primary workplace. Taehyung had been right - the change in scenery helped facilitate new avenues of creativity that hadn’t been accessible to him before. He may not have been able to work on the roof, as wind and precipitation weren’t always the most preferable conditions, but the view and solitude within the enclosed upper floor were more than enough to get his brain focused on the task at hand. 

 

Though working in his dorm had been initially his first choice, the charm of Taehyung’s aura seemed to be growing with each passing day, and Jungkook worried he’d get nothing done while spending an embarrassing amount of time looking at the Spring when glittering skin caught his eye, or glancing at his tanned complexion when changing into Jungkook’s many shirts. Not to mention the times he wound up talking to him about anything and everything, or being unable to stop himself from brushing up against his torrid skin, or imagining his body pressed up against Taehyung’s until soft sounds left his mouth- 

 

Focus, Jungkook. 

 

Glancing down to his sketchbook, Jungkook traced the contours of the figure he had hastily drawn during his planning, replicating the curvature on his canvas with a light touch of pale yellow. The sketch had been useful for the technicalities and proportions he had made so far, but otherwise, Jungkook almost didn’t need the reference. The image of winged, golden Taehyung seemed to be burned into him like a brand, the memory prominent and clear in the forefront of his mind like he was still witnessing it. 

 

And who could really blame him for obsessing over it a little? Taehyung was a work of art. 

 

Jungkook sometimes visited the galleries and showcases of other artists, both famous and unknown, just to remind himself that artwork other than his own existed out there. Occasionally, he’d stumble across a piece that resonated with his very core, the designs or shapes fluent in a language he wasn’t sure he had ever learned, but seemed able to speak. Those few works always impacted his own psyche immensely, intertwining with his own artistic norm to the point where a new style would emerge without him even being aware of it.

 

The Taehyung he had witnessed before the sunset was Jungkook’s newest and most enticing inspiration, so overpowering that it felt like he was seeing color for the first time. 

 

Perhaps it was an exaggeration, but his roommate had a track record of changing Jungkook’s entire perception of what he once considered concrete beliefs. He supposed they had both changed during the duration of their short friendship so far. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more obvious it had become.

 

Recently, Jungkook was more open and trusting than ever. The exposure was utterly petrifying as he willingly administered piece after piece of his very self, praying the fragile fragments would be well cared for. The satisfaction of sharing them successfully, namely with Taehyung, always lured him into a sense of security, one that allowed him to share more than he had ever dared. Before he knew it, they had dumped an avalanche of pieces onto one another, exchanging at an addictive rate Jungkook easily lost himself in. 

 

And Taehyung, he had appeared so resilient to Jungkook when they had met, his strength and beauty almost untouchable. Jungkook had loathed it for a time, finding the concept of so much perfection in an existence that was built to counter his own incomprehensible and unsettling. Once the Spring had started to reveal parts of himself beyond the surface, it became clear that Taehyung was still just as strong, just as beautiful and even more perfect than Jungkook had initially anticipated, but also soft, compassionate and occasionally far more fragile than he let on.

 

Jungkook admired the times Taehyung persisted when faced with challenges, from gaming to cooking or anything in between. He admired the quiet, contemplative atmosphere that Taehyung rarely showed in the presence of others, usually opting to shield himself with humor and conversation. He admired the Spring’s duality between whiny innocence and alluring confidence, constantly stumbling upon new attributes to his increasingly complex spirit. 

 

Most of all, he admired Taehyung for his aura of compassionate attentiveness, his verdant eyes seemingly only on Jungkook these days, not on the fabricated surface that Jungkook had created for his outward appearance, but the one only revealed after assiduously joining the small pieces of himself he willingly surrendered over time.

 

Taehyung had been the first to ever bother putting them together so carefully.

 

Blinking at the canvas propped against his easel, Jungkook noticed he had continued painting while lost in his thoughts. Surprisingly, the work he had done had quite possibly been better than what he could’ve created while overthinking his color choices. 

 

Thoughts of his roommate had him choosing colors of yellows, reds, greens and pinks for the chromatic display that made up his wings of clouds and sky, their typically dulled vibrance now vivid and inviting on his pallet. He stood back to check his progress from a distance, critiquing the composition as he tilted his head to the side. 

 

I should probably blend that out a bit more… maybe brighten that orange with a touch of yellow. And I have to mask out the hair too-

 

A vibration on the wooden end table beside him interrupted Jungkook’s critique, ringing loudly in the hushed space. The repetitive sound signified it was a phone call, piquing his interest, as most conversations he had were via text these days. 

 

‘Min Yoongi’.

 

Confusion surfaced in Jungkook at the name on the screen, furrowing his brow as he swiped to answer. Yoongi had exchanged a text with him only once, and it was to extract Jimin’s shoe size from him. Calling him seemed a bit over the top. 

 

“Hello?”

 

Jungkook,” Yoongi’s voice answered, his tone not at all friendly. “Where are you now?”

 

Anxiety fluttered in his heart. “At the campus watchtower working on my painting final. Why?”

 

Start running to your dorm room. Now.” 

 

~

 

******

 

 

His lungs were burning as Jungkook sprinted across the snowy campus, phone still held to his ear as Yoongi soothed a shouting Jimin in the background. The Summerborne’s distant, frantic tone lanced panic through his chest.

 

Tae! What’s happening?!” Jungkook caught from Jimin’s urgent pleas, yelling into his own phone somewhere beside Yoongi. “Can you hear me? Taehyung!” 

 

Jungkook clenched his jaw, body wrought with adrenaline and fear as his muscles burned from their overexertion. 

 

Taehyung was in danger, and he wasn’t there to help. Again. 

 

Slamming into the front door of his dorm lobby, Jungkook headed for the stairs, taking two at a time as the surrounding walls fuzzed blue, his vision rapidly succumbing to the cold pulsing through him. 

 

It’s alright, babe,” he overheard Yoongi say reassuringly, in an uncharacteristically kind tone Jungkook was sure was strictly used for Jimin. There was static as the grey-eyed winter brought the receiver closer to his face again, his voice grave. “You almost there, Jungkook?” 

 

His breath came in spasms, but he still managed to answer. “Yes, two more floors.” 

 

Another shout of Taehyung’s name from Jimin had his stomach in knots.

 

“Hurry,” was all Yoongi muttered, his tone thick with tension. If Jungkook could be moving faster, he would’ve been.

 

His heart pounded in his chest as he nearly stumbled up the last step on the fifth floor, tripping over his own feet while he ran for the familiar door. The reeking scent of metal and bitter lemon nearly suffocated him before he even touched the handle, shoving his phone into his pocket hoping Yoongi knew well enough to keep quiet or hang up. A muffled whine from the room had Jungkook’s blood going cold as he threw the wooden door open, its handle slamming with force as it collided with the drywall behind it. 

 

Green met Jungkook’s blue with an intensity that nearly incinerated the room as he entered. 

 

From the scene that greeted him, he was surprised he hadn’t already frozen over the place in an instant. 

 

Tears rushed from Taehyung’s eyes, his fear so tangible through his aura that Jungkook had to shake off the immediate urge to cower. A man dressed in a dark jacket pressed the Spring to the wall of his unfinished mural, his glittering knife against Taehyung’s tanned throat and a hand up his shirt. 

 

The whimper from Taehyung at Jungkook’s appearance struck him like a blow to the gut. 

 

Jungkook was seething, the immediate temperature dropping from a sweltering heat Taehyung had caused to a frigid breeze in seconds. The tang of blood was on his tongue as he bit the inside of his cheek, working to restrain his powers from ripping the man apart. He wanted to freeze him into a shattered mess where he stood. 

 

“I was wondering when you’d show up,” the man drawled, voice like the screech of a wire brush on steel. His gaze didn’t leave Taehyung as he addressed the Winter in the doorway. “You don’t do a very good job at protecting your charge, huh?”

 

Motion ran under the grey hooded shirt Taehyung wore - Jungkook’s shirt - as the man felt up his prisoner. Taehyung slowly looked away, clenching his blazing eyes shut at the unwelcome contact. Tears leaked onto his cheeks as his chest shook in an effort to breathe. 

 

The knife against Taehyung’s delicate neck terrified Jungkook, and he knew he’d lose it at the first drop of blood shed. 

 

“Pity you hadn’t arrived a little later.” There was a sharp inhale from the Spring as the man scraped his nails over Taehyung’s hips, the sweatpants he wore riding low on his waist. “Maybe I could’ve given Taehyungie here what he actually deserves.”

 

Fury overtook Jungkook as he watched every movement of the stranger with a cerulean glare. 

 

It was true, Jungkook couldn’t touch Taehyung. He couldn’t run his fingers over any of Taehyung’s bare skin, or brush his lips against the other pair he longed for. He couldn’t join their bodies in the way he dreamt about, even though he’d likely sell his soul to have a second of painless contact.

 

But Taehyung wanted to stay by Jungkook, at least from his behavior. Taehyung wanted Jungkook, and there was not a second of doubt in Jungkook’s mind that he wanted any and all of Taehyung. Yes, there may have been limitations, but those limitations hadn’t mattered in the time they had slowly grown fond of one another. Regardless of their circumstances, it was their friendship… their relationship. The connection was theirs alone. 

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure how the man knew of their seasonal circumstances, or if he knew of Jungkook’s hidden affinity for cold manipulation. The consequences of revealing more information than necessary about himself filtered through his head, holding him back from annihilating him on the spot. Carelessly freezing him where he stood also risked putting Taehyung in danger due to their closeness, and he wasn’t sure if he could bare ever hurting Taehyung with his cold again, even accidentally. 

 

Once again, he was stuck without a way to protect Taehyung. He was weak.

 

 

 

*******

 

“What do you fucking want?” Jungkook spat with venom. It took effort not to rush the man, but the glint of the silver blade kept him rooted where he stood, his fists clenched and shaking with frustration. 

 

A soft snort came from stranger at Jungkook’s tone. “You really don’t know what I’m here for?” His full face was turned away, but he could see the man’s cheeks lift into a smirk as he gazed down at the Springborne. “Have you really not told him, Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung was silent, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he tried not to move in an effort not to slice his throat on the sharp metal against it.

 

Wild anger seemed to overcome the man as Taehyung dismissed him. He gripped Taehyung’s jaw with ferocity, forcing the blonde to look at him. “Don’t ignore me. You’ve seen where that gets you.” The blonde’s eyes flared as his head was tilted upwards in a sharp motion. “Maybe I can just fill him in for you. I’m sure he’d appreciate it.”

 

Taehyung glared with fury at the man, baring his teeth in a snarl. “You wouldn’t fucking dare,” he growled, causing Jungkook to flinch at the harsh tone. 

 

A bitter laugh rang through the room. “How cute, thinking you can tell me what to do,” the man sneered. “Should I let Daddy know how insolent little Taehyungie is being? That he’s screwing around instead of doing his job?”

 

To Jungkook’s surprise, Taehyung smiled mischievously with his head still tipped back, undeniable hatred in his green eyes. “Be my guest, Lucas. Sorry you’re so washed up that not even nature is on your side, desperate bastard.” 

 

Though he was terrified on his behalf, pride surged through Jungkook at Taehyung’s bravery. He was as stubborn as Jungkook was, possibly even worse, but he was the strongest person the Winter knew. Although things had been in a haze as of late, right now they were crystal clear: there was no one he’d rather be infatuated with, even if it wasn’t exactly mutual. There was only Taehyung for him.

 

Taehyung’s eyes snapped to Jungkook as if hearing his thoughts, a sudden softness overtaking his verdant gaze, even in the face of peril. Jungkook wondered if Taehyung could feel his surge of endearment, if perhaps his scent had told him enough. 

 

Motivated by the Spring’s attention on him, Jungkook funneled as much of his heart as he could into the air around him, hoping it would be conveyed properly. He might not have been able to help Taehyung just yet, but he could still comfort him in ways no one else could, in a language no one else spoke but them. 

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure if it was love he was sending along their little vague connection, but if it was, he was surprised to find he wasn’t as afraid of sharing it as he had been before.

 

A blast of vanilla answered Jungkook heartbeats later, staggering in its strength. He inhaled greedily, the warmth soothing him so deeply it was as if Taehyung had fully understood Jungkook’s sentiment. 

 

Lucas froze, body going taught as Taehyung expressed his fondness without words. Mouth parting in shock, his nails dug deeper into Taehyung’s jaw. At the harsh grip, the blonde finally unhinged his gaze from Jungkook’s sapphire eyes to glare at the man with contempt. 

 

“What the fuck is that?” Lucas fumed, the blade in his hand gleaming in the light as he adjusted it. A sapphire stone embedded into the hilt caught Jungkook’s eye as he watched it warily, panic coiling around his heart at its proximity to Taehyung’s precious veins. “What the fuck is that scent?”

 

Taehyung clenched his teeth as the metal pressed against his skin, the smooth surface nearly bucking under the weight. Jungkook felt his muscles coil almost of their own volition, his body ready to strike at the slightest sign of pain from his roommate.

 

“I get it. So you’ll hand yourself over to him and not to me, eh?” The dagger shook in his hand, his composure slipping at Taehyung’s unwavering glower. “Is that really how you want this to play out? After all we’ve been through?”

 

A smile spread across the Spring’s face at his words, his green eyes igniting with the brightest of flames. “Jungkook is ten times the Winterborne you will ever be,” he said with finality, punctuating each word with force as his gaze flicked to Jungkook’s for a breath, “and a hundred times the man you will ever be.”

 

Jungkook stood stock still while a deep sense of longing overtook him. His heart was bursting at the praise from the Spring, threatening to fall right out of his chest. Their friendship, their precious bond… it belonged to them, and Taehyung knew it too.

 

Lucas was impeding on what was theirs. Jungkook despised it, rage brewing in him at the invader as he tried to step between everything they had worked for.

 

“Spring bitch,” Lucas growled, pressing the blade into Taehyung’s veins enough to reveal a thin line of blood. 

 

Before Taehyung had a chance to suck in a breath, Jungkook was lunging forward to grab the man by the throat, cold flurrying around him in a wild rage. He pinned Lucas to the wall of windows with a crash, his eyes seething with a frigid flame.

 

“Don’t you fucking touch him,” Jungkook snarled, inches away from his face as rage pounded through him like a steady heartbeat. “Don’t you ever -”

 

His breath caught in his throat. 

 

Sky blue. He saw the sky before him, but the open air beyond the windows was grey and barren.

 

No. Jungkook saw the sky in the eyes of the man he all but choked against the panes. His eyes were glowing a bright blue, several tones lighter than Jungkook’s own typical sapphire, but still saturated with enough color to make a statement.

 

He had Winter eyes, and he had been touching Taehyung without burning him.

 

The man sputtered, struggling against the arm holding him with force, but Jungkook had no issue in keeping him down. He had seen how Lucas had touched Taehyung, how he had drawn blood from the most precious thing to him. Jungkook felt a turbulent violence seep into his typically cool demeanor. He wanted him to suffer, or at the very least, he wanted him to freeze. 

 

As Jungkook’s cold roared to life, the beast in his chest awoken by the primal desire to protect Taehyung, he felt the surge answered by a lick of Taehyung’s own warm aura. Touch as hot as an iron pressed into his shoulder, the blonde’s grip attempting to ground him.

 

“Don’t, Jungkook,” he rasped, holding a hand to his injured neck and wincing in pain. Jungkook watched as a red bead rolled down his nape, slowing at his sharp collarbones. 

 

It was too much seeing Taehyung’s blood marr his silky skin, the color like cymbals crashing in his mind. Jungkook felt his fingers clench tighter around Lucas’s windpipe, the man coughing as he struggled for air. 

 

There was blistering heat around his middle and an even greater inferno along his back as Taehyung wrapped his arms around Jungkook, burying his face into his shoulder. 

 

“Kookie baby, please, let it go,” he pleaded, sending sparks through every inch of Jungkook with his warm touch and the pet name. Colors flocked to the edges of his sight as vanilla snaked down his throat, igniting the whole room in a golden hue. He stared down at the man, at the worthless person who had brought so much agony to Taehyung, caught between the practical desire to end the threat and the pull of Taehyung’s touch. 

 

He had been practicing following his instinct lately, so he did. Jungkook gave into Taehyung, releasing his grip as the man slid to the ground with a thud. Lucas’s neck glowed blue to Jungkook, frostburn lingering where his fingers had previously occupied. It didn’t seem like nearly enough damage, but with Taehyung wrapped around him, Jungkook had other priorities. 

 

Turning in the Spring’s hold, Jungkook brought a clothed hand to Taehyung’s cheek, worriedly glancing between the Springborne’s injured neck and his wavering eyes as the flame neared a peculiar yellow color. He chalked it up to his own vision being off around Taehyung lately. “Are you alright? How bad is it?” 

 

Taehyung shook his head, ridding himself of Jungkook’s palm. “I’m fine, Jungkook,” he said quickly, eyes blinking at the ground. Jungkook wondered if he was avoiding eye contact because he was more hurt than he was letting on. The thought of Taehyung in pain had him bristling again while he struggled to keep his emotions in check.

 

A choked laugh was heard from behind them, sparking the flames of anger in Jungkook as he stuck his tongue in his cheek.    

 

“Oh god, Taehyung, what the hell have you done?” Lucas wheezed, his icy blue eyes wide and unnerving as he burned his stare into Jungkook’s own pair. “Did you really think you could hide him for long?” 

 

Jungkook felt Taehyung’s hand clench around the back of his shirt. “Get the hell out, Lucas. I don’t want to see you again,” he said through gritted teeth, stare still on the plush purple carpet beneath their feet. 

 

Lucas gaped for a few more moments before he struggled to his feet, gripping onto Taehyung’s desk for support. Despite not being a fan of violence, Jungkook had never wanted to kick a man down more than he did then, but he held back at the comforting touch of Taehyung’s grip on his back. 

 

“You know this isn’t the end,” the other Winterborne said, voice eerily quiet as he made his way to the exit. His ominous tone sent shivers down Jungkook’s spine. “This is the beginning. This changes everything.”

 

Taehyung shook his head, his body shaking violently as his grip neared painful where it clung to Jungkook’s back. “No, it doesn't,” he insisted, voice cracking with emotion. “You’re wrong.” 

 

Hand on the door handle, Lucas turned his head around, a smirk on his face that Jungkook wanted to rip off with all the strength he had. “You knew this would happen, Taehyung. You could’ve prevented this with us, with me. I could have helped you.” The man looked almost sorrowful as he glared at Taehyung a final time, the Spring breathing heavily behind Jungkook. 

 

“Get the fuck out of here,” Jungkook growled, feeling subdued only by the weakened waver of Taehyung’s warmth. “Don’t contact Taehyung again.” 

 

The man laughed a final time. “That’s rich, coming from you... Jungkook, was it? Good to know. You may not see me again, but maybe you should ask your boyfriend about all the shit he’s been hiding from you.” 

 

Lucas glanced at Taehyung for several breaths before turning, frigid eyes blooming with a mix of emotions Jungkook couldn’t read. “Bye, Taehyungie.”

 

At the sound of the door snapping shut, Taehyung exhaled a shuddering breath, collapsing to a sitting position on the floor. Sobs broke from his chest, fresh tears cascading down his face from his green eyes as he hugged his knees. 

 

Jungkook felt his heart crack at the sight, squatting down to Taehyung’s height beside him. “It’s okay, Tae, you’re safe now,” he soothed, running his fingers through the warm ends of Taehyung’s messy hair. Taehyung had been through so much today, Jungkook was surprised his composure had even held out this long. His own emotions felt wild as they shifted from bubbling fury to stark protectiveness, the sadness of Taehyung triggering an avalanche of sympathy inside him.

 

His attention was interrupted by the red line across the Spring’s throat, cringing at the drying blood that lingered there. 

 

“Hang on, let me get a-”

 

“No!” Taehyung cried, gripping onto Jungkook’s bare hand in a flurry of panic. They both gasped at the sudden searing burn that followed, snapping their hands back in a rush. The pain was miserable as it tingled on Jungkook’s skin, matching marks of faded blue marks blooming on Taehyung’s fingertips, but the ache in his heart was far greater at the clear struggle Taehyung was experiencing.

 

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry Jungkook,” he said in shock, nearing hysterics as his lungs begged for air. “I- I ruined everything, I did this, I-”

 

“Breathe,” Jungkook murmured, rubbing comforting motions into his back. He had seen him have anxiety before, but this was clearly a new level of hell for Taehyung. It was incredibly frustrating not being able to help him through it more than simply repeating himself. 

 

Sitting down with his back against Taehyung’s bed, Jungkook gently tugged the Spring to sit sideways on his lap. Taehyung wasn’t at all resistant as he shifted, curling his arms around Jungkook’s neck and burying his face into his shoulder without hesitation as sobs wracked his small form. 

 

“Deep breaths, Tae,” Jungkook instructed gently. “Try to match my breathing. Can you do that for me?” 

 

The Spring glanced at him with wide eyes, mouth parted as he struggled to inhale. There was hysteria in his expression, worse than any sort of tears Jungkook had seen. The Winter brought his shaky hands to Taehyung’s face, running the material of his shirt over the skin in calming circles.

 

“Taehyung,” Jungkook said, more sternly this time. “Breathe in through your nose for eight seconds, out through your mouth for eight seconds. I’ll do it with you, okay?” 

 

Although there was still anguish in a cloud around him, Taehyung seemed to understand as he sucked in a shaky breath, a ragged exhale tumbling from him in a rush. Several minutes passed as they breathed through Taehyung’s frenzy, Jungkook calming his own frantic heartbeat in the process. His method of consoling the Spring was slow moving, but to his relief, it seemed to be effective.

 

When Taehyung had seemed to exhaust himself, he laid his head on Jungkook’s shoulder, despondency overtaking the place of his previous panic. He waited patiently for Taehyung to cry himself out, mumbling the same comforts as much as he could as he dragged his fingertips over burning skin. It wasn’t much, but at the very least, Jungkook wanted him to know he could at least be his light in the darkness.

 

It was a long while before Taehyung stopped sobbing, his tears eventually reduced to sniffles, though he still shook with adrenaline in Jungkook’s arms.

 

“Please don’t go,” Taehyung whispered through his tears, the desperate, muffled sound lancing Jungkook’s chest with sympathy. He couldn’t help but huff a small laugh at the absurdity of the statement, holding tightly to the weight of the Spring on his lap as if Taehyung would be the one to fly away.

 

“I’m not planning on going anywhere,” he said, heart nearly overflowing with fondness while he tickled the hairs on Taehyung’s nape. “I don’t ever plan on going anywhere.”

 

Taehyung pulled away to look at Jungkook, his eyes red and swollen from his breakdown. It tore at Jungkook’s heartstrings, his misery apparent on his face and in the aura around him. Jungkook released his iron grip around him to bring his sleeves to Taehyung’s face, brushing away the tears and snot that lingered there with soft, gentle strokes. 

 

“I know you might not want to talk right now, but I have to text Jimin and Yoongi or they might show up here ready to burn the place down,” Jungkook said quietly, cupping Taehyung’s reddened cheeks with his covered hands. “I’m guessing you were on the phone when…” He trailed off, unsure of how far he could breach the topic with Taehyung when he had just calmed down. 

 

Taehyung was quiet as he breathed deeply, simply nodding at Jungkook’s statement. 

 

His hands travelled down to the sides of the blonde’s neck, his chest nearly caving in as he took another good look at Taehyung’s wound. It wasn’t significant enough to warrant a hospital visit, but Jungkook still needed to clean and disinfect it as soon as possible. 

 

“Do you think we could get that cleaned up?” he asked with tenderness, nodding at Taehyung’s neck. The Spring still sat silently in his lap, head down while he stared aimlessly at his own hands. Jungkook had almost thought Taehyung hadn’t heard him before there was finally a nod in response. He looked exhausted beyond belief, as if his spirit had been shredded to nothingness. The sight upset Jungkook more than he could say.

 

“Okay,” the Winter said softly, “I’ll clean it up and we can go to bed, alright? You need sleep.” 

 

Taehyung’s deadened eyes were wild then, latching onto Jungkook with a renewed emerald fire as his grip shot for the Winter’s forearm. “Can- can I, with you…?” he asked, unable to finish his question. His hands shook as his stare travelled back down to Jungkook’s sleeve.

 

Jungkook squeezed his thigh with what he hoped was reassurance. “You don’t even need to ask,” he said with a small smile, disheartened when Taehyung couldn’t manage to return one. “I mean that, not just tonight, but any time.” 

 

Taehyung gently moved his thumb across Jungkook’s arm, the motion more comfort than he could say with words. Relief trickled through him when the surrounding air warmed just a little, a tiny hint of vanilla tumbling in the breeze. 

 

~

 

“You awake?” Jungkook asked into the darkness of his side of the room, reaching out to ruffle where he assumed Taehyung’s golden locks would be, finding purchase in what felt like soft sand. He twirled the glimmering strands in his fingertips, feeling contented just being near the Spring, especially in his own bed.

 

Taehyung scrunched his nose, his eyelids fluttering open at the brush of his hair. “Sort of.”

 

Taehyung had been silent all night so far, his unsettling, deadened stare spaced out for hours. Although it upset Jungkook to see him that way, he couldn’t blame his roommate for his state of shock. 

 

He also couldn’t blame him when Taehyung had Jungkook check the locked door three times before they retired to bed, ensuring no one would be visiting them unexpectedly. 

 

Jimin had been nearly inconsolable via text, begging to talk to Taehyung, but Jungkook was firm in his belief that the Spring needed to recover before recounting the traumatic events of the night. He provided what vague information he could, leaving the rest of the story up to Taehyung when he was ready. 

 

Truthfully, Jungkook knew very little of what went on, and anything he had gleaned from the heated words between the two had only served to make things more unclear. He understood that the stalker, whose name was apparently Lucas, had a history with Taehyung, and possibly Taehyung’s father. He assumed that Lucas had been his roommate, more than likely forcing himself into the position to get closer to Taehyung. Apparently, there was a ‘job’ Taehyung needed to do, and he wasn’t doing it. 

 

And Lucas was a Winterborne… one that had somehow touched Taehyung without burning him. The thought had Jungkook’s stomach flipping, wondering why the same rules didn’t apply to him, but he was confident Taehyung would share a way to bypass their seasonal incompatibilities if he was aware of it.

 

“I’m not going to make you talk about anything, especially tonight,” Jungkook murmured into the darkness, feeling Taehyung’s breath catch beside him as his muscles tensed. “But I just need to know who it was that came here earlier. I don’t want them hurting you again.”

 

Taehyung was silent for awhile, the tension between them thick and unpleasant. Jungkook hoped he hadn’t overstepped by asking, but he wasn’t sure he could function properly without at least a small explanation as to why Taehyung had been assaulted and strangely had yet to report the incident. 

 

There was a sigh from beside him before a deep voice whispered in the dark. “Someone from my past I’d rather forget,” he answered cryptically. 

 

Jungkook waited patiently for further commentary, but ultimately received none. Sighing, he withdrew his hand from Taehyung’s hair, curling it against himself instead.

 

It hurt just a little to know Taehyung was hiding such a large part of himself from Jungkook. Logic told him he wasn’t entitled to the information, but after the pieces of themselves they had shared so readily, he wondered how much of the Spring he even knew, if it was even possible for Taehyung to be both secretive and genuine at the same time. 

 

“Will- will you tell me,” he asked nervously, “when you’re ready, of course?”

 

He heard Taehyung suck in a breath, the space beside him void of the usual soft touches and warmth he had come to appreciate so much. The Spring rolled away, putting his back to Jungkook as he faced the dividing wall of their shared room. 

 

“I don’t know,” Taehyung whispered, his voice wrought with apprehension. 

 

Jungkook swallowed thickly as a cool sensation prickled in his chest. Taehyung was rarely closed off like this, and though Jungkook fully understood that barely any time had passed between the incident and now, it was still a little difficult to be left out of the loop.

 

He knew he had to be patient. Maybe Taehyung wasn’t ready to share those pieces of himself. Maybe Jungkook was rushing him too much, pushing to be involved in something he had no right to poke his nose into. He ignored the small voice that told him he was involved now no matter what after revealing his affinity for power.

 

Still, he felt as powerless as ever when it came to protecting Taehyung. He could never shield him properly, and without knowing what was happening around them, he may as well have been walking into a room blind. 

 

Jin’s words rang in his head as he pondered the mysterious situation hour after hour, barely finding any sleep while the issue went unresolved. ‘If I needed to know, I’d know,’ Jin had said, his face a clear disagreement with his words. 

 

Jungkook had reassured him then that Namjoon loved Jin and would do nothing to hurt him, even if it meant hiding things from him, but in Taehyung’s case, he still wasn’t sure that sort of explanation could apply.

 

Did Taehyung love him?

 

Heart thumping loudly, Jungkook felt himself go molten at the thought of being the object of Taehyung’s affections. There really wasn’t a better scenario for him to imagine, picturing Taehyung having eyes only for him, being able to spend time together without interruption, sharing secrets about themselves, experiencing a physical connection exclusively to them-

 

Pain stabbed at Jungkook’s lip as he bit into it, contemplating the limitations they still had. When he truly thought about it, their friendship had grown into something almost closer to a romantic partnership, just without the integral piece of physical contact. Jungkook could go without it if it meant being able to be around Taehyung, but in the Spring’s case…

 

Did Taehyung hesitate to share pieces of himself with Jungkook because he knew they couldn’t be together that way?

 

Jungkook felt nausea swoop in his stomach. It wasn’t impossible that Taehyung didn’t feel similarly about them. He easily could have gone along with their limited acts of affection simply because he enjoyed it, and maybe he had just wanted a friend in Jungkook, not the sort of partners they were slowly becoming. 

 

It felt like a knife to the ribs as Jungkook pictured Taehyung maintaining their status quo while dating someone else. Was it even possible for their relationship to remain the same if he found someone with everything Jungkook offered, who also happened to be seasonally compatible?

 

As a sense of anxiety overcame him, Jungkook thought back to Jin’s reassuring words. Taehyung was actively choosing to stay beside Jungkook, sleeping near him and wearing his clothes, cooking for him and spending rather obnoxious amounts of time with him. At no point had Jungkook asked for or forced the Spring into any of those things, at least he hoped he hadn’t. 

 

Jin had said they needed to believe in one another in order to progress. 

 

As he gazed at the shadowed back of the sleeping Springborne, his small figure curled against the wall with golden curls splayed onto the pillow, Jungkook knew he believed in himself. He knew he believed in what he felt for Taehyung.

 

He knew he loved Taehyung. 

 

The events of the day had made things clear. There was no other explanation for the way Taehyung made him feel like he was being born again, this time into a new life full of color and emotion that Jungkook had never experienced. There was no other explanation for the way their scents appealed so strongly to the other, or the way their emotions seemed to always connect without trying. There was no other explanation for the magnetic pull Jungkook felt towards him. 

 

Jungkook believed in himself and his love for Taehyung. There was no denying it now.

 

But he wasn’t sure if Taehyung believed in him. 

 

~

 

[Taehyung]
Thursday, 8:14 PM
i’ll be back late
don’t wait up for me

 

Sighing, Jungkook irritatedly threw his phone in his duffle bag, eager to rid himself of the text he just received. He took an aggressive sip of his mocha latte, ignoring the way the sweet, boiling liquid burned his tongue. 

 

The coffee shop on campus was small but cozy, usually filled to the brim with students chatting or typing away on their laptops, but thanks to the impending doom of finals week, most were stuck in studios slaving over their remaining projects or catching up on the few hours of sleep they needed. 

 

It worked out for Jungkook to have the place to himself as he huddled in a corner booth, needing to escape the room that practically oozed Taehyung. He had been having a hard enough time as it was without him present, and the addictive scent that clung to every corner of the dorm wasn’t helping much.

 

It was nearing a full week since Taehyung had been threatened with a knife to the throat, leaning on Jungkook for his safety and subsequent panic attack, and it had been a week since Taehyung had properly spoken to him about... anything, really. 

 

Ironically, it had also been a full week since Jungkook admitted to himself that he loved Taehyung. What great timing he had.

 

The avoidance in Taehyung’s behavior was clear to Jungkook, easily explained by the trauma that he had been through, but the distance between them still hurt. A lot. 

 

They hadn’t spent any of the last few nights together, especially with Jungkook constantly slaving over his final projects, particularly his painting final, and Taehyung making himself suspiciously scarce. The Winter had forgotten how much he didn’t prefer to have cup noodles for nearly every meal, his motivation to cook only for himself at an all time low. 

 

He had also forgotten how isolating his existence had been before Taehyung, his random thoughts and worries floating around in his head incessantly instead of emptied into their constant flow of conversation like they usually were. Jungkook was almost thankful for the heavy workload he currently had on his shoulders, since it at least provided a distraction from the widening hole in his heart at the blonde’s absence. 

 

The loss of Taehyung’s usual aura also forced his cold to surface more than it had in weeks, driving Jungkook to work extra release time into his already busy schedule. It was a bit jarring to see how being close to the Spring had dulled the sharp edge of his winter flowing in his veins so well. Resuming the typical exercises to lower his own stored powers had Jungkook feeling like he had been teleported back to a time he preferred not to visit again.

 

On top of the usual woes, he also was plagued with the constant fear of Taehyung being cornered, the lack of communication making Jungkook all the more worried. He barely had any way of knowing where Taehyung was, often having trouble falling asleep until the Spring tiptoed home in the early hours of the morning, assuming Jungkook was sleeping. 

 

It was more than frustrating that he still didn’t have any idea what Taehyung was hiding from him. Jimin and Yoongi had been no help when he inquired, both strictly defaulting to the common phrase of ‘it should come from Taehyung.’

 

How was anything supposed to come from Taehyung when they barely crossed paths in a week, even while living together?

 

Jungkook jumped as reminder buzzed on his phone, the notification for the calendar popping up on the small screen peeking out of his dance bag. 

 

‘Send invites.’

 

Sliding a hand down his face, Jungkook was grateful he had set the reminder for himself, having completely forgotten about his exhibition. It was a requirement of his painting final to present his work in an exhibit setting, and his ability to explain his creation would be a large part of his grade. 

 

Nerves swam in his gut at the thought of displaying such a personal work in front of an audience, but there was excitement buried deep down as well. Jungkook planned to invite all of his friends to the showing, particularly one friend who was the subject matter of his painting. Even though things were hairy between them for the time being, Jungkook prayed Taehyung found the time to at least see what he created, to see the version of Taehyung Jungkook admired in a way that felt more expressive than simple words.

 

He took another hefty gulp of his latte, hoping to energize himself for the late night ahead. Slinging his bag over his shoulder, Jungkook left the coffee shop, heading straight for the watchtower to put the final touches on his seemingly endless project. 

 

~

 

The soft snap of the shutting door alerted Jungkook where he sat in front of his triple-monitor computer setup, his head twisting around to find a rather shocked and utterly exhausted-looking Taehyung in the entryway. 

 

“J-Jungkook… I didn’t think you’d still be up,” he said quietly, eyes only meeting Jungkook’s for a moment before he trained his gaze to anything and everything else around him. 

 

Jungkook hadn’t thought he’d still be up either, but since Taehyung kept eluding him at every possible moment, the only time he could feasibly speak to him was when he returned late into the night. He had to admit the weak greeting from Taehyung after seeing each other for the first time in days was disappointing, but he didn’t let it discourage him. 

 

The Winter waited patiently for Taehyung to go about his usual routine, changing into comfortable clothes and washing his face in the bathroom. At the sound of the Spring’s toothbrush scraping away at his teeth, Jungkook’s anxiety spiked in his chest, knowing the perfect opportunity was arriving to finally catch him before he retired to sleep on his own side.

 

At the sound of the bathroom door swishing open, Jungkook mustered his courage and popped around the corner of the dividing wall, face to face with a haggard and yet somehow still breathtaking Taehyung. 

 

“Uh.. Taehyung,” he said quickly, striving to capture the Spring’s attention. It was ridiculous that his heart was beating quickly, his old lack of confidence easily finding its way back to him. “I was wondering if we could… maybe talk for a second?”

 

Unlit green eyes glanced away from Jungkook as Taehyung released a long exhale. It took all of Jungkook’s willpower not to scrunch his nose at the abrasive scent of metallic lemon increasing in the surrounding air. 

 

Despite his clearly standoffish posture, Jungkook was still captivated by Taehyung, wishing with every bone in his body that he could hold him. It may have been his imagination, but Jungkook thought Taehyung might have looked run down, the usual vibrance missing from his complexion and the bags under his eyes darker than before. His face looked sunken and his hair was dulled.

 

He guessed the poor appearance was from the from the incident last week still eating away at the Spring. Jungkook was sure he didn’t look much better either.

 

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung muttered, fiddling with the silver rings on his fingers. “I can’t really talk right now, I should get to sleep.” The blond pursed his lips, his pointed stare far away from Jungkook’s eyes.

 

It hurt, Jungkook noticed. It hurt like hell to have Taehyung dismiss him so easily, when only a little over a week ago they had been almost attached at the hip. So much had changed in a tiny amount of time, frustrating him beyond belief. Jungkook hadn’t been responsible for the invasion that had taken place, and he had truly tried his hardest to protect Taehyung. He put his heart into caring for him afterwards, feeling nothing but unconditional compassion for the blonde. 

 

He wasn’t sure what he did wrong in all of this, or why he was being punished for trying to make sense of it all. Still, at the very least, he wanted to invite Taehyung personally to the exhibition.

 

If anything, maybe the painting could explain a little more of how he felt lately.

 

“Oh, there was just this thing coming up next-”

 

“I’ll pass,” Taehyung said, his voice overpowering Jungkook’s in a tone that lacked all politeness. 

 

The blatant dismissal felt like a slap to the face. Jungkook felt himself bristling, his eyes flaring to a bright blue as frustration pounded at the floodgates inside of him.

 

“You didn’t even bother to let me finish,” the Winter said irritatedly, struggling to keep himself in check. 

 

Taehyung scoffed - actually scoffed at Jungkook, shaking his head as he continued to stare anywhere but at the Winterborne in front of him. “Sorry that I have a lot going on, I guess? I’ve been really busy, my schedule is packed and I’m tired, alright?” 

 

The floodgates burst as he absorbed Taehyung’s display of apathy. 

 

Why had he even bothered to care as much has he did about Taehyung?

 

“Oh, is all the stuff you have ‘going on’ the same shit you refuse to tell me about?”

 

Green ignited in Taehyung’s irises, locking to Jungkook’s with a passionate rage. “Stay out of it, Jungkook,” he growled, crossing his arms against his chest. “It has nothing to do with you.” 

 

“It has everything to do with me!” Jungkook spat in return, the patience he had built upon for the last week snapping easily in two. “You brought me into this, Taehyung, and now you won’t even tell me what the hell I’m signed up for.”

 

Jungkook felt like his heart was being ripped out at the look of disdain Taehyung sent him. 

 

“Oh really? Great to know this is all against your will. I guess I was right when I said I was forcing this friendship on you,” he said with a dry laugh, the sound pricking Jungkook like needles. “I knew this was a mistake.”

 

Mistake? Rage drowned Jungkook then, nearly suffocating him as his insides flared in pain. 

 

“What friendship? You mean these awful excuses for interactions? I haven’t seen any evidence of a friendship in a week.” He took an unintentional step towards Taehyung, feeling awful as the Spring glared at him with genuine hurt. 

 

He was so angry. He was angry because he loved Taehyung and wanted to shake him with the feelings that kept him up at night, that had him wrapped around the Spring’s delicate finger. 

 

“You’re right,” Taehyung said quietly, nails digging into his tanned arms that were wrapped tightly around him. “You’re right. There is no friendship. It was a sham.”

 

Something broke in Jungkook’s chest. 

 

“Tae,” he pleaded, softening his tone as desolation nearly drowned him. “I just want to help you. I-” he swallowed, almost unable to continue as his heart caught in his throat, “I really care about you. Please don’t block me out. I’m on your side here.”

 

Taehyung looked ready to cry at Jungkook’s statement, his teeth biting his lip with force. Still, his green refused to meet Jungkook’s blue again. 

 

“I’m sorry, Jungkook,” he repeated, voice wavering with an emotion. “I-I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to bed.”

 

For the first time in their rooming together, Jungkook watched as Taehyung closed the curtain to his room, the green cloth wrinkled and creased from where it had been bunched for so many months. 

 

Jungkook stood in shock outside the room for a few moments, unsure of how things had ended this way. Afraid his heart might actually be breaking at the excruciating pain felt, he robotically padded into his room, sitting on his bed in a daze. 

 

There was only freezing cold in his chest, Taehyung’s warmth nowhere to be found with only abrasive scents in the desolate air.

 

He had done it. He had really pushed Taehyung to the edge instead of waiting patiently for him. Jungkook felt acid in his throat as he put his head in his hands.

 

He had fallen in love with the best thing that ever happened to him, and then pushed Taehyung away as quickly as he had come. How very typical for Jungkook, the guy who couldn’t keep a friendship around for more than a few months. How appropriate.

 

There was no surprise when a few tears leaked from Jungkook’s sapphire eyes, the negative emotions nearly suffocating him where he sat. He wasn’t a big crier, but the agony in his heart was possibly the worst he had ever felt, far worse than any burn he had received. Rejection from Taehyung stung miserably, especially considering he had turned down an invite Jungkook had so desperately wanted to share with him. It had been his last hope of communicating to Taehyung how much he cared for him. 

 

Coherent thought wasn’t an option as he curled into a ball on his bed, the lingering scent of Taehyung on the pillow furthest away a stark reminder of what he had lost. The knowledge that the Spring slept a few feet away was like a knife to his chest as he laid his palm on the wall, willing to give up anything to break it down in more ways than one.

 

He couldn’t help Taehyung if Taehyung didn’t want it. He was not one to force a relationship or interaction, especially as he was usually the one ending them himself. 

 

But he also couldn’t flick a switch to stop loving Taehyung, as much as he’d like. The thought of not being near him, hearing him laugh, eating meals with him or feeling the burn of his flaming skin was enough to cripple him. Any thought of a future without the Spring seemed bleak.

 

He had hoped and dreamed they could overcome the incompatibilities written into their DNA, but Jungkook realized he had been focusing on the wrong thing all along. If things had really come to this, Taehyung’s heart must not have even been there in the first place.

 

There was no regret as he thought of Taehyung, longing to feel the burn of his touch one more time. Even if he hadn’t done enough for his roommate, his friend, he was still satisfied with his own changes. Taehyung had changed him into someone that had hope and trust in others, and he was grateful for that.

 

He wondered if he was strong enough to still be hopeful and trusting after having it come back to bite him so fiercely, and despite the blaring pain in his heart, he wondered if he was wrong to still have hope in Taehyung.

 

~

 

Taehyung felt like trash, possibly the biggest dumpster fire of all time as he vomited once again into the porcelain toilet of his dorm bathroom. 

 

He had ruined everything. Everything. And he had done it on purpose.

 

There was not a flicker of doubt in his clouded mind that Jungkook hated him now, especially after the cold-shoulder stunt he had pulled. Taehyung thought he deserved an award for his grade A acting when he had blown off Jungkook in a pathetic attempt to get the Winterborne to leave him alone. He might’ve actually been a little worried that he did too good of a job.

 

Great job being an asshole, Taehyung! You’re brilliant! 

 

Slapping a hand over his face, he wasn’t sure what hurt more: the confession that Jungkook cared about him so much, or the subsequent silent treatment that followed. 

 

All Taehyung knew was that mind and body were fading without Jungkook, fast, but he’d willingly go down before looking to anyone else to set him straight. No one felt like Jungkook. No one even came close to him.

 

The grating vibration of Taehyung’s phone rang out on the tiled bathroom floor, prickling him with annoyance. Couldn’t whoever the hell it was see that he was busy emotionally and physically deteriorating here?

 

He softened as Jimin’s ridiculous contact photo greeted him on the screen, scooting along the cold floor to lean his aching body against the bathtub.

 

“Mm?” he answered, not even bothering to say hello to his best friend. Jimin was lucky he didn’t get a grunt with how weak Taehyung currently felt.

 

“Oi, are you coming?”

 

Taehyung furrowed his sweaty brow. “Uh, where? To Yoongi’s? I thought you guys wanted alone time tonight.”

 

There was static as Jimin blew air into the speaker. “Don’t play dumb, Taehyung, I’m sure Jungkook told you even though you’ve been giving each other space.”

 

Biting his lip, Taehyung flew wildly through the files of his brain for some sort of explanation that he and Jungkook weren’t actually talking and that he had maybe blown the poor guy’s head off instead. He also might have left that little detail out of his conversations with Jimin lately. 

 

It wasn’t because he didn’t trust Jimin or anything, it was more that he didn’t want to face what he had to do. 

 

No one would understand anyway - not even Chim.

 

“Uh, he might have mentioned… something?” The excuse was weak, and Jimin was a bloodhound when it came to Taehyung’s bullshit. He may as well have spelled it out for his friend.

 

“Kim Taehyung,” Jimin said, voice low with an aggression that Taehyung knew he’d feel in the form of a couple arm punches later on. “Have you not been telling me something? Something about you and Jungkook?” There was a pause as Jimin inhaled, breath coming from him in a rush. “Is that why the pathetic ice boy has been almost collapsing halfway into our dance routine this week?”

 

Taehyung winced at the harsh tone, pain prodding at his heart at the thought of Jungkook ever coming close to collapsing. He supposed he deserved to be reprimanded for not keeping Jimin completely filled in, and also for what he had done to Jungkook.

 

Still, he knew it was better this way. 

 

“We might have possibly stopped talking because I told him to perhaps... maybe... not talk to me,” Taehyung said timidly, guilt nearly spilling from him. Admittedly, it had been hard to keep everything from Jimin in the last few days, but talking about it made the consequences far too real.

 

“You. did. WHAT?” Jimin snapped. “And you didn’t tell me? What the hell, Tae! How am I supposed to do my job of stopping you from being an idiot if you don’t tell me these things?”

 

Irritation sparked in Taehyung at Jimin’s scolding. Couldn’t anyone tell he was trying his absolute hardest to do the best thing for Jungkook considering the circumstances?

 

“Do you really think I wanted to stop talking to him?” Taehyung retorted, his heart aching for the scent of cinnamon as he recalled the awful look on Jungkook’s devastated face. “I cut it off because I don’t want him to go through the same shit. Being apart from him is-” he swallowed, trying to hold himself together, “it hurts so much I can barely breathe, Chim.” 

 

There was a sigh on the other end. “We need to talk about this, all of this,” the Summer said, his voice still firm but a bit kinder than earlier. “I told you to lean on us, Tae. You don’t have to go through this alone, we’ll never leave you to deal with this by yourself.” 

 

Tears pricked in the corners of the Spring’s eyes as his heart flooded with gratefulness for his friend. Even though life had given him some shitty circumstances, it had also at least tried to balance it out with the presence of Park Jimin. 

 

“I don’t care if you guys never speak again, you need to come to this exhibition, Taehyung. If you don’t show up, I’ll drag you myself. This is the only night for it, they change everything out tomorrow.” 

 

Exhibition? Taehyung couldn't recall hearing about Jungkook doing any sort of display, and he relayed the same info to Jimin. 

 

“Yeah, you probably didn’t hear because you were too busy trying to be a martyr while Jungkook had been slaving over this,” Jimin answered indignantly. 

 

Taehyung’s chest hurt. It hurt like a bitch, honestly. Here he thought he knew everything about Jungkook, from the color of his underwear to the exact amount of songs on his current playlist, but he hadn’t even known Jungkook was working so hard on something apparently amazing.

 

“I can’t believe Jungkookie right now, I didn’t think he had it in him to look so put together and talk in front of so many people.” Jimin huffed a laugh. “There’s a huge crowd here, but the place is closing down in ten minutes. If you want to make it, you need to leave now.”

 

Now?! Taehyung had just got done spilling his guts thanks to the nausea that always accompanied regal separation, and now he had to drag himself across campus and face Jungkook? An apparently well dressed and probably hot Jungkook, since Jungkook was always infuriatingly hot?

 

It seemed so stupid of him to go and put himself in such a vulnerable position, especially after cutting Jungkook off so believably. 

 

He was going.

 

“Do I need a ticket?”

 

“Jungkook may have let it slip that he left it in the pocket of that jacket you always wear, but by the time you get here, you won’t need it,” Jimin said slyly. Taehyung could almost see the shit-eating grin on his face. “He may have also told me a few other things after I caught him pouting over the wine station, something about you hating him and never speaking to him again.”

 

Taehyung wanted to flush his phone down the toilet. First, Jungkook had been unbearably cute and clever enough to put the ticket right where he’d eventually find it if he ever wore Jungkook’s jersey again (he wanted to), and second, Jimin fucking knew Taehyung had cut him off this whole time (of course he did). 

 

“I hate you, Park.”

 

“Love you too, Kim. Get over here, please, it’s closing down soon. We can’t stay, but I’ll do you a favor like I always do and get Hobi to leave the side entrance unlocked with the master key.” 

 

“On my way,” he groaned, struggling to stand as he held onto the bathtub. His muscles ached from fatigue, but he pushed them out of his mind. The thought of seeing something Jungkook had apparently poured his heart into had even his horribly weak body scrambling.

 

“Oh, and Taehyung?” Jimin said, his voice taking on a peculiar tone. 

 

“Mhm?” Taehyung answered, a toothbrush already in his mouth as he worked to make himself semi-presentable. 

 

“If you let the bullshit go on with Jungkook after this, I’m disowning you.”

 

~

 

It was dark when Taehyung arrived at the side door of the largest art gallery on campus, the recessed fluorescent lights off in its state of closure. Of course, it had taken him at least forty minutes to drag himself from one side of the campus to the other, his weakened body very unhelpful when in a rush, and it looked like everyone had vacated for the night. He was disappointed that he likely missed Jungkook, especially in fancy clothes, but he also was glad to have the privacy to appreciate the Winter’s apparently mind blowing piece without distraction.

 

Nervousness matched his pulse as he approached the door, praying it was left open like Jimin said. 

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Relief flooded Taehyung as the door swung open with ease, grateful that Jimin had Hoseok leave it unlocked. It wasn’t unusual for students to roam the floor late into the night when setting up their pieces, and he wouldn’t get in any trouble for being there, but the solitude still made it feel a bit like a secret agent mission.

 

Footsteps echoing loudly in the open space, Taehyung wandered through the maze-like areas, casually observing the work of other students. Lights still shined down upon the individual pieces, reminding Taehyung of highlighted items in video games as he muttered his appreciations for a few sculptures or drawings here and there. There was something calming about the colors or shapes splashed onto walls of stark white, each work given its own opportunity to shine. 

 

It would’ve been nice to have a map. Taehyung pursed his lips, raising his brows at himself. It probably would’ve been a lot easier to navigate if he had actually shown up on time, and also it would’ve been easier if he was still talking to Jungkook.

 

Jungkook had a knack for making everything simultaneously difficult and easy. 

 

Each piece he passed seemed to have its own identity, at least to Taehyung’s Springborne eyes. To him, colors were not only wavelengths of light but also movements, symphonies and dialects. He could see the marks of their creators with the uniqueness of a thumbprint, each soul no better or worse than the other, all shining brightly with their own flame. 

 

He knew he’d find Jungkook’s the moment he saw it, the mark of the Winterborne as readable to him as his own. Jungkook’s stark, cool nature was always quite the opposite in his pieces, always unearthing parts of himself that he must have had trouble speaking. 

 

Quite frankly, Taehyung thought Jungkook expressed himself better with many forms other than words. His artwork spoke of what he saw, displaying his unique way of seeing the world. His eyes always sparkled before his smile did, revealing his emotions before he likely even registered them. And his touch told Taehyung more than the Winter probably knew he was sharing himself.

 

Touch was maybe Jungkook’s strongest language. He and Taehyung could speak it fluently on their own or with others, but when they attempted to communicate with each other through the collision of their skin, it felt like they were shouting through muffled doors and closed windows. There was always a barrier obscuring the sentiments they longed to share.

 

If he had his way, Taehyung would have comfortably forgone touch and spoken other languages with Jungkook forever, despite the raw desire to crash into the Winter at any and all times.

 

Unfortunately, Lucas’s untimely visit a week prior reminded Taehyung that life never seemed to work out in his favor. 

 

As he rounded the corner into a larger exhibition room, he was greeted by a singular wall that seemed to rise up from the ground, space on either side leading to a darkened area behind it. A massive painting splashed with brilliant vibrance was hung in its center, commanding the rest of the empty space to nearly bow before it.

 

Taehyung felt his heart race as he approached, the colors wild in their intensity as they danced in his vision. Their symphony was enticingly emotional, a call to a venture of sorts that had Taehyung utterly captivated at first glance.

 

The identity of the artist was terribly familiar, yet not the same as the one he had been looking for, the one he knew so well. Peculiarly enough, it was as if Taehyung’s own fingerprint had meshed with the artist’s in a strange merging of existences. 

 

When he was close enough to absorb the details, his heart halted to a stop in his chest.

 

Taehyung fell to his knees. 

 

Jungkook always created with his soul as the paintbrush, almost unable to hold back from pouring bits of himself into everything he touched. His candor was one of the qualities Taehyung had first admired when they had met, back when Jungkook had still hated everything about him. The very same outpouring of emotion was more than evident on the canvas, as if Jungkook had ripped his heart open and laid it bare for all to see. 

 

No, for Taehyung to see. 

 

The Springborne felt his eyes burn as emotion overwhelmed him at the sight. His own face stared back at him, painted lips parted while he looked over his shoulder. The Taehyung created with oil paint had a frame bathed in light, surrounded by colors he wasn’t sure existed until now. The proportions were precisely accurate, Jungkook having captured every tiny detail, from the mole on Taehyung’s eyelid to the slight tilt in his posture, from the waves of his hair to the highlight on his cheek. Technically speaking, the piece was created perfectly, whether in color choice, media application or presentation.

 

Those things were unimportant to Taehyung as he stared at the work, the rectangular canvas a perfect window into Jungkook’s true feelings. There were wings protruding from the painted figure’s back, tangling with the brilliant sky, and it took all of the Spring’s willpower not to lift his own hand to his back to make sure they weren’t there right then. Painted Taehyung had wings made of every color, the sky a palette of unimaginable flames. Jungkook’s color choice practically shouted at Taehyung, the echo of his voice bringing tears to his eyes.

 

Intertwined in the brushstrokes of his own figure, an unreadable expression on his fabricated face, was the attentiveness and fondness that Jungkook always gazed at him with. It might as well have been splattered onto the canvas in the way that Jungkook conveyed his vision, the figure’s hair alight with a blazing brilliance that could almost be mistaken for a halo. In the curvatures of his body were the careful traits of gentleness and tension, the push and pull Taehyung felt himself manipulated by each day. 

 

And the figure’s eyes… Taehyung’s eyes. They were gold.

 

Not only were they precisely the gold that Taehyung had worked so hard to conceal from Jungkook, but they were also overflowing with so much love that the blonde nearly choked on it.

 

I get it, Jungkook. He wiped away the tears rolling down his cheeks with his sleeve, unblinking as he tried to burn the painting into his memory. Staring into the eyes of Jungkook’s version of himself, he felt like he was looking into a reflection of who he longed to be beside the Winterborne. I can hear you now. 

 

Taehyung felt the brilliant light in his irises shift to a yellower shade, though he paid it no mind. 

 

Jungkook had tried to tell him through words, but that was his weakest language, and Taehyung hadn’t bothered to listen.

 

He had tried to tell Taehyung through his eyes, the gold often unbeknownst to Jungkook occasionally flaming in a way Taehyung had only dared to dream about, but it was never enough evidence of Jungkook’s true feelings.

 

He had tried to tell Taehyung through touch, but that avenue of communication had been nearly severed from the start. 

 

Taehyung had been blind and deaf to it all, until now.

 

Jungkook loved him. His whole creation was drenched in admiration and reverence, qualities Taehyung would have never believed Jungkook truly saw in him without the beautifully crafted evidence in front of him. He could have sworn Jungkook’s scent was even emanating from the painting, the delectable spiced cinnamon wafting through the air as if the Winter stood beside him. It made him long for Jungkook and his kind hearted, gentle touches, for his toothy smile and his unwavering comfort.

 

Taehyung had thrown him away with the dismissal of a few words.

 

“I’m sorry, Kookie,” Taehyung sobbed, still unable to rip his golden, blazing gaze from Jungkook’s declaration while he continued to wipe his tears. “I’m so sorry. I-I’m just trying to do what’s best.”

 

Taehyung wondered when he had gotten lucky enough to be the target of affection from someone so utterly perfect as Jungkook, why fate had planned it so strategically to make intertwining their lives as hard as possible. 

 

Regardless, as he stared at his own wings of radiant sky, Taehyung didn’t give a fuck anymore. 

 

Seasons meant nothing compared to the variety of languages they shared, compared to the bond they had cultivated and nurtured.  Jungkook was his, and he was Jungkook’s. 

 

“I love you. I love you too, Jungkook.”

 

~

 

Sniffles echoed through the dark exhibit hall, the sound of soft footsteps finally travelling away after what seemed like hours. 

 

Jungkook couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe as he sat with his back pinned to the singular wall, his painting hanging on the opposite side. Tears still ran down his cheeks, many having dried already while he had listened to Taehyung’s reaction to his work. 

 

He had hoped for maybe a gasp, or even an exclamation if he were lucky. In fact, he was happy Taehyung showed up at all. 

 

But instead, Jungkook got a confession. It was a miracle he hadn’t somehow revealed himself.

 

‘I love you too, Jungkook.’ The phrase had clanged through his skull like a roar of thunder, igniting every cell within him with a cataclysmic fire. 

 

Taehyung’s scent had all but ripped the air from his lungs, its wondrous aroma having been absent so long from his life that Jungkook felt his cold nearly disappear at its resurgence. 

 

Relief flooded Jungkook from head to toe, shuddering through him as he shook with emotion. The weeks of effort, planning and work and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from his professors and peers had been minor compared to the response from his roommate. 

 

Taehyung finally understood. He had gotten the message. 

 

Jungkook had finally been able to communicate in a language they were fluent in, and Taehyung had known him well enough to listen. 

 

It was a terrifying prospect to love Taehyung as much as he did, especially in their short time frame, but Jungkook felt no doubt now. 

 

And as Jungkook’s golden eyes traced the shapes of the recessed lights in the ceiling above him, he hoped and prayed Taehyung’s realization meant he could finally share the pieces of himself that he had been afraid to before.

 

He didn’t care if they were complicated to put together, or if he had to agonize over the details, Jungkook wanted them all. He would treasure anything Taehyung gave him with care. 

 

Taehyung had taught him how to love with every part of himself, had given him hope. That was enough.

Chapter Text

“Please remind me again why we’re at a public park in December?”

 

Jimin’s teeth were chattering loudly as he whined beside Taehyung, their feet dangling over a rocky wall that ran parallel to the river. Snow blanketed the surrounding area, the treeline opposite of the running water spanning as far as the eye could see in both directions. 

 

A puffy, black jacket in the form of Yoongi elbowed his boyfriend from the other side. “Because Taehyung said so obviously, it’s his birthday.”

 

Jimin returned the blow with a weak punch to the Winter’s arm, deflected by his fluffy coat. “I know that, you pain, that doesn’t make it any less cold!”

 

Snorting softly, Taehyung felt his heart warm beside his friends, happy to be spending time with them despite feeling ill lately. It was almost the end of the year, which also meant another one of his birthdays had come around. 

 

The late December was not truly Taehyung’s time of birth, the actual day naturally having been in the spring, but it was the day he had finally left his father to live with his grandparents. His grandmother had agreed it sounded like a good day for celebration, and in honor of what Taehyung liked to think of as his own rebirth, he considered the date his true birthday. 

 

Every year since their childhood, Jimin and Yoongi had taken Taehyung to a location of his preference for his birthday, regardless of season or weather. That had meant a dinosaur museum (where they had been surrounded by children at age twenty-four), a paint ball maze (where Jimin had gotten a welt on his ass the size of an orange), an authentic Japanese teahouse (where Taehyung had knocked over a $3,000 set of china), and even volunteering at an animal shelter (where Taehyung had cried for two hours when he couldn’t take a fluffy grey cat home). 

 

Needless to say, this year seemed a little toned down compared to the previous, but Taehyung didn’t mind it. The craziness of his life had needed a lull lately, and the river near his grandparents' old house in a more modest, wooded country was the best place to get it. The serene landscape brought him peace, helping to calm his swirling thoughts. It reminded him of more innocent times when he had often played on the riverbank or at the small park across the way as a child, always under the watchful eye of his grandmother. 

 

He smiled as he gazed out to the dock, now in a state of disrepair. Since their passing, his grandparents' house had remained vacant, though still in good shape. It tugged on his heartstrings to see the lights off and curtains drawn, but he clung to the hope that an opportunity would arise to breathe life into it again, if he ever had the chance. 

 

Taehyung hoped he’d be able to live at his grandparents’ house someday, often dreaming of bright spring days and cozy winters somewhere in the distant future. The memories there still fueled him like a beacon in the darkness, even in his worst times, despite knowing his position would likely prevent such dreams from becoming reality.

 

Peering over his shoulder at the front porch of the house in the distance, Taehyung recalled his grandmother beckoning him inside for a birthday celebration between the three of them, a small cake of strawberries in her hand. Her green eyes had always been sparkling, never dulled or hardened around Taehyung. Love was never far from him when she was nearby.

 

He wondered if there would ever be a chance to cultivate the same atmosphere, if he could relive the memories that made up the pieces of his heart. Funny enough, Taehyung had never been able to picture himself living there realistically, until a certain Winterborne had started appearing in his made-up scenarios.

 

As if to torture himself, Taehyung imagined Jungkook glistening with sweat as he fixed the broken dock on a summer day, or maybe sketching while on the swing on the back porch. He wondered if they could wake for the dawn of an early spring morning, sipping hot tea from the balcony while the sun rose over the treeline, or if they could cuddle under a wooly blanket beside the crackling fireplace while a blizzard raged outside. 

 

Kim Taehyung, you are so, so whipped.

 

They had only been away for a night, graciously housed by Yoongi’s mother the previous evening, but Taehyung already missed the dorm life, the place having grown on him in the last few months. And… alright, okay! He’d admit it! He missed Jungkook. It didn’t make it much easier he had only recently admitted the feelings within him were love.

 

They had still barely exchanged a few words, never texting or hanging out much in the last week. Jungkook still had no idea Taehyung had seen the painting, and as much as he was dreading the conversation, Taehyung knew he needed to face the music. 

 

Although, strangely enough, Taehyung had picked up on a subtle change in scent from Jungkook over the course of a few days, the charred embers of his usually bristling bonfire sprinkled with the smallest touch of cinnamon. He was thankful it was a regular occurrence, since the scent seemed to helped Taehyung with his regal separation symptoms, but the lack of explanation still was unsettling.

 

It made Taehyung wonder if something positive had happened to his roommate, or if something had cheered him up. Either way, the exclusion was a painful reminder that he wasn’t a part of Jungkook’s life the longer they remained at odds.

 

He refused to think that it might be some one who cheered him up. Nope, not happening.

 

As if the spike in his scent hadn’t been enough, a light dusting of red brushed Taehyung’s cheeks as he recalled Jungkook’s resurfacing habit of walking around with his shirt off. It seemed ridiculously unnecessary, especially in the winter when Jungkook would likely be the most comfortable, but he never left the shower with more than some low-rise pants anymore. And when he meant low, he meant… low. Like, low-low.

 

And what was Taehyung going to do, complain?! Like hell he’d turn down an opportunity to see Jungkook’s perfectly sculpted abs, even from his fuzzy peripherals. Not to mention, the guy had a v-line so sharp it could probably slice something open. 

 

Quite frankly, Taehyung had not gotten laid in months (thanks to a certain pain in the ass Winterborne who he had fallen for just a little), and even the smallest of views were much appreciated these days. 

 

“Pleaseeee, can we at least go on the swings?” Jimin whined, tugging at Taehyung’s sleeve. “I need to move or something before I actually freeze my ass off.”

 

Taehyung was grateful for the interruption. He spent enough time obsessing over Jungkook as it was, he didn’t need to defile his own birthday thirsting after the person he loved that had likely loved him back, the person he had also stupidly tried to push away (like it had even been possible). 

 

Pretending to ponder for a moment, Taehyung held his hand to his chin, brow furrowed as he stared out to the water. After a few quiet moments, he gave Jimin a smirk, raising his eyebrows up and down. “Race ya.”

 

The Spring scrambled from where he sat on the stone wall with a smile on his face, launching over it and sprinting for the abandoned playground, it’s faded tones of sepia and green a sign of time having passed. Snow plopped into piles on the ground as he dusted a thin layer of white from one of the four swings, sitting down to kick his legs high into the sky. 

 

“Not fair,” Jimin puffed, his breath visible in the air as it left his lips. Yoongi strolled behind, not at all in a rush with his leisurely pace. The pink-haired Summerborne took the seat next to Taehyung, the rusty chain screeching under the weight after a long lack of use, gently pushing himself forward and back with the tips of his black shoes. 

 

It was strange to think a smaller, more innocent version of himself had sat upon the very same swing twenty years ago. His version of the world had changed, but most of the things in it had not.

 

“You ever think about how our childhood memories shaped who we are now, but we can’t even remember most of them?”  

 

Jimin stared at Taehyung for a moment, never surprised by the Spring’s random inquiries anymore. “Sometimes I do,” he hummed, pondering the question with thought. Taehyung always appreciated that Jimin took him seriously, even if he sometimes felt ridiculous speaking his mind. “I try not to think about it too much, since I’m happy with the way I turned out. I figure a lot of the good stuff must have done its job if it led me to now.”

 

Head tipped back to the grey sky, Taehyung took a deep breath of cold air, appreciating how it seemed to purify his lungs. 

 

“I’m twenty-five now, but sometimes I feel like I still have those moments,” he said softly, almost thinking aloud. The breeze tousled the golden tips of his hair, nearly reflective even without the sun on them. “Sometimes I feel so much at once, it blends together with who I am and becomes a block of my foundation instead of just a memory.”

 

Jimin was silent beside Taehyung, the sounds of their rusty swings ringing out in the cold air. 

 

“Do you think we’re still allowed to be building our foundations at this age?” Taehyung asked the sky curiously, squinting at the clouds as if they had answers. “Do you think if we overwrite those memories, we lose who we are?”

 

“Our lives are always a work in-progress,” Yoongi answered simply, leaning against the metal poles that held the swings in the air. “The foundations are only built to last so long. You have to supplement them with the things that are important to you or they’ll end up crumbling.” 

 

Taehyung didn’t need to look down from the sky to know the Winterborne was looking at Jimin. 

 

“Sometimes, those things become so integral to us, they become our foundation instead. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

 

If Taehyung’s foundation had been padded and primed with things that were precious to him, it was probably as tall as a skyscraper by now. He felt immensely lucky for his friends, especially Jimin and Yoongi, but also any friendly faces that positively influenced his life in some way. 

 

He was thankful for the way he saw the world and his ability to replicate that through painting, and the connections art had brought to him, and also for his seasonal traits, even though they had served to turn his entire life on its head. It wasn’t the season’s fault Taehyung had absorbed so much of it.

 

He was grateful for his childhood, a time full of nurturing and wonder thanks to his grandparents, despite the many moments of darkness and turmoil.

 

And, of course, there was Jungkook, his cool breeze always whispering in his mind without fail. Taehyung felt like he had spent his whole life meticulously building his foundation just for he and Jungkook to stand upon it. 

 

The greater part of twenty-five years had been careful preparation, but Taehyung was absolutely certain with every part of him that his life had truly started the day he met Jeon Jungkook. 


~


“So… how are things?” Jimin inquired, his mischievous smile nearly branding Taehyung with its implication from where he sat across from the Spring. 

 

Foliage flew by in a blur as their train sped to its destination, the tracks clacking through the floor below their rather antiquated car. A dark haired Yoongi slept soundly against the window, his body curled in on itself in a way that screamed ‘wake me and lose your life’. Taehyung wondered how someone so intimidating could seem so soft while snoring away. 

 

Rolling his eyes, dread filled him at the impending conversation for the evening. “Please, enlighten me with which kind of ‘things’ you’re referring to, because I’ve got plenty of them.” With a few hours ride ahead, there was no escaping this time. 

 

“Don’t play dumb. You might as well have ‘property of Jungkook’ stapled to your forehead.”

 

Groaning, Taehyung smacked the back of his head into the window glass behind him. “You’re insufferable, Jimin. Please remind me why I keep you around?” 

 

The Summer giggled softly, leaning forward to rest his chin on his palm. “Because I’m the best you’ve got, clearly. Now spill, did you fix things with Jungkookie yet or what?”

 

Taehyung curled a leg up onto the seat, wrapping his arm around it. “Define ‘fix’.”

 

It was Jimin’s turn to roll his eyes. “Stop being evasive. Did you or did you not talk to Jungkook? Or tell him you’re an idiot and you didn’t mean it? Maybe have some hot makeup sex afterwards?”

 

He wanted to pluck Jimin’s wriggling eyebrows right off his stupid face. “First of all, no. Second of all, no. And third of all, absolutely and utterly no.”

 

“So you still haven’t addressed it? Even after the painting? Please tell me you saw what I saw, he might as well have titled it ‘I think Kim Taehyung is a god’.”

 

Taehyung wasn’t even sure if he could tell Jimin what he had seen that night. He wasn’t sure if there were words to describe the admiration Jungkook had painted him with, admiration Taehyung didn’t deserve. 

 

“He had left when I got there, I didn’t have the chance to say anything,” he said quietly, exhaling as he stared out the window. He wondered if it would’ve been easier had Jungkook been present. At least he could have ripped the bandaid off right then. 

 

“You guys live together, how can you not find a time to talk?!” Jimin said exasperatedly. “This is friken’ ridiculous, Tae. Stop dancing around each other!”

 

Teeth ground together as Taehyung worked his jaw. “I don’t know why you keep suggesting I do anything other than dance around him, Jimin. We literally can’t touch without burning each other’s skin off.” 

 

Jimin gave him a sad look, a sigh leaving him in a huff. “I know, I know. I wish I could help you both, the whole thing sucks.”

 

Agreed. “You don’t even know the half of it, not when it’s my fault he’s in this mess.”

 

A slow surprise seemed to come over his friend, his face moving from sad to contemplative. “...What do you mean, he’s in ‘this mess’? What mess?” 

 

Taehyung was glad Jimin couldn’t feel him sweating nervously. He knew the truth had to come out sooner or later, but it still caused him stress to discuss. “Uh.. well, you see, there’s this small thing that happened…”

 

Jimin kicked at his shoe impatiently when Taehyung hesitated. “And?!”

 

“It was when Lucas showed up…”

 

Yoongi’s eyes snapped open, the aged leather seat beneath him groaning as he sat up abruptly, his eyes glaring at a startled Taehyung with intensity. His boyfriend didn’t even bother to acknowledge it, Jimin’s darkening expression zeroing in on Taehyung’s guilty one with laser precision. “What happened, Taehyung?”

 

Yeah, they were going to end him.

 

“I told you Lucas kind of hurt me but,” he swallowed thickly, fingers reaching up to brush against his throat. “He actually put a tiny cut here with his heirloom.” His nail dragged against the line on his neck, feeling the ghost of sharp pain that lingered there.

 

Jimin paled, any trace of his previous affection eradicated as the image sunk in. Yoongi was rigid beside him, his grey eyes unblinking. Taehyung couldn’t look at either of them.

 

He had told him Lucas had paid a visit, that he had turned him away again, and that Jungkook had witnessed most of it, but he had left out the small parts regarding the assault and...

 

“When he did that, Jungkook… he- he pinned him, almost choked the life out of him. I think he really wanted to hurt him,” he said breathlessly. “I stopped him but, the touch… it made him flare, and the gold…” 

 

He worriedly glanced at his friends, feeling anxious beneath the tension. “Lucas saw. He knows.”

 

Sitting back in his seat, Yoongi crossed his arms tightly against his chest, his puffy jacket swishing with his movements. Jimin looked as though he had been slapped.

 

“I- I tried to push Jungkook away after that,” Taehyung rushed out, eager to soothe their strained expressions, even though he had no solution himself. “It’s my fault the bloodline awoke in the first place. I thought if I separated myself, it would stop, but then… the exhibition and the painting, he…” He folded his knees to his chest, burying his face in darkness. Shrinking into a ball seemed like a good plan.

 

His heart ached thinking of what Jungkook must have felt when he had protected Taehyung so fiercely, only to be kicked down by the Spring without any explanation. 

 

“I don’t want him to live this nightmare. I don’t want him to be used,” he whispered into his legs, pain lancing his chest at the thought of handing over Jungkook like a pawn. “I don’t want to use him.”

 

Taehyung jumped at the sound of Jimin suddenly standing, the sliding door to the train car slamming shut with rattling force as he exited. His lips parted as he looked to Yoongi, heart racing at the dramatic departure.

 

The Winterborne ran a palm down his face. “Taehyung,” he said dryly, glaring at the Spring with disdain, “you’re a damn idiot.”

 

“I’m fully aware of that, thank you,” he said irritatedly. “I knew the plan was stupid but I was desperate-”

 

“No,” Yoongi interrupted, “you’re an idiot because you won’t trust us.”

 

Wait.. what? The statement was absurd. “But I do trust you, I trust you and Chim more than anyone in the world!”

 

Yoongi raised a brow. “Then, tell me, why would you leave something that important out of what you initially told us happened?” An exhausted sigh slipped from his nose as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “It hurts when you’re secretive like this. We want to help you, but you never let us in.”

 

Nails digging into his knees, the Spring felt shame writhe in his abdomen. Of course he trusted his best friends, but what kind of friend dumped all their problems on others? Didn’t that kind of relationship become exhausting?

 

He was terrified to lose them, the integral parts of his foundation that made up who he was. What happened when they tired of him?

 

“I-I..”

 

“Think about it at least a little, Taehyung.” Yoongi was firm, his voice cold. “This isn’t just about you anymore. The secret’s out - they know about Jungkook. That puts him and you both in a shit ton of danger.” His jaw clenched as he glared at aged interior of the train. “There’s zero chance of them letting this go. No amount of you separating from Jungkook will protect him now, you should know that. If he’s been responding to your touch, you’re already bonded anyway.” 

 

It was unlike the Winter to be so emotional, and it scared Taehyung. He wasn’t wrong, Jungkook was still in danger, but he had hoped if he rejected him like Lucas, maybe there had been a chance for his roommate to leave the situation unscathed.

 

But after the painting, after knowing they their love was mutual on top of the pull of their traits to one another, Taehyung was certain it would be impossible for them to be parted anymore. Technically being bonded aside, he would break before he had to leave Jungkook again. 

 

It felt selfish, horribly and disgustingly selfish, for Taehyung to want Jungkook as much as he did. The contentment and happiness the Winter brought him were undeserved, knowing that Jungkook could have flown under the radar for the rest of his life before meeting Taehyung. 

 

Jungkook loved him now, but would he still love him after he knew Taehyung was responsible for the destruction of his freedom?

 

“Jungkook won’t run away from this,” Yoongi said softly, breaking a shaky Taehyung from his downwards spiral with a warm touch on his arm. Taehyung always wondered if the Winter could read minds for how he always seemed to know exactly what to say. “Just because it’s been dormant all along doesn’t mean he’ll reject it. He cares about you, you dolt, and he’s even more stubborn than you are sometimes.”

 

The Winter took off his jacket, tossing it around Taehyung’s shivering shoulders. It felt like a warm embrace. “If you’re bonded, you probably feel sick as anything right now, huh?” 

 

At his eventual nod, Yoongi shook his head.

 

“Let us in, Taehyung. Let the dawn of twenty years of happiness at least be the year you break down the walls. You can drown us in your worries, and Jimin might kill you in the process, but we won’t leave you. We took a vow to that, but the vow is weak compared to our friendship. You’re not in this alone.”

 

As Taehyung squeezed his glowing eyes shut, he envisioned a golden-eyed Jungkook beside him with an outstretched palm, a toothy smile on his face, with his two best friends at his back. The thought of dragging the kind and gentle Jungkook he knew to the pits of hell Taehyung was so familiar with sickened him, but he was slowly running out of options. 

 

All he knew was that parting from Jungkook was no longer one of them.


~

 

The car was distressingly quiet, the roar of the engine the only company for Taehyung as he laid his head against the window pane. Yoongi hadn’t even bothered to turn the radio on, letting the blonde stew in the mess of his tangled thoughts instead.

 

It was rather commonplace to have Jimin yell at him, threaten to kick his ass or give him a lecture when he inevitably screwed up - he was part of Taehyung’s cohort, after all. But his silence was far harsher than anything else that could be thrown at him.

 

The tension in him only rose as the car rolled into the dorm parking lot, especially when he stared up at the mostly darkened lights of his building. Taehyung had stayed behind for the break because, well, other than Jimin and Yoongi (and, if he were being daring, Jungkook), he had no real family left to attend to. Most residents had travelled home, leaving the residence halls nearly empty, but a certain Winterborne was still in one of those rooms, one Taehyung was not looking forward to facing. 

 

Each and every one of Taehyung’s limbs felt weighed down thanks to the separation symptoms he was experiencing, and on top of the unhappiness of his friends, he currently wasn’t sure how he was going to get out of the back seat, nonetheless make it up five damn flights of stairs. 

 

Some birthday, eh?

 

The car pulled into one of the many empty spots available, quieting as Yoongi shifted it into park. Releasing a long sigh, Taehyung gathered his phone charger and travel bag from the floor while he struggled to find the strength to stand. Everything felt heavy and burdensome on his shoulders, both physically and mentally. 

 

Why had every damn thing gone wrong lately? All he wanted to do was care for his friends and live comfortably with the person he cared about. Instead, everyone was reprimanding him for taking on a load he had never even asked for.

 

“Well…” he started quietly, disheartened when Jimin didn’t even turn around to look at him. “Thank you for the birthday celebrations. I had a lot of fun.”

 

Taehyung saw Jimin’s knuckles whiten as he clenched his fist, but there was still no response from the Winter or Summer. He swallowed thickly, unsure of how to even depart on such a bad note.

 

“I’m sorry, I love you guys. Thanks for always being..” he caught his breath, feeling fatigued and sluggish as he opened the car door, “for being there for me. I promise to do better.” 

 

Stretching his legs after the ride, Taehyung hauled his bags over his shoulders, wondering if he’d have to make a pit stop to rest on his way upstairs. His talk with Jungkook could wait at this point. He needed his bed and to sleep for at least two days before he could attempt to function properly again. 

 

He wasn’t sure how much longer he’d hold out like this. 

 

The pavement was gravelly as he dragged the rubbery soles of his sneakers across it, willing himself to at least remain standing until he heard the sounds of his friends pulling away, but the car still remained idle in the lot. Taehyung swore he could feel their burning stares on his back.

 

Just go already, he pleaded internally, not wanting them to see him struggle. It was hard enough being the target of Jimin’s anger as it was - he’d probably get murdered if he collapsed in front of him.

 

It wasn’t too surprising when Taehyung tripped over his own feet, stumbling just a little as he reached the sidewalk. 

 

There was the sound of a car door opening and shutting followed by the sound of rapid footsteps, and Taehyung barely had time to twist around before he was being slammed by a lithe, muscled body that smelled weakly of peaches. Arms were flung messily around his neck, knocking the wind out of him as Jimin held him in an incredibly tight grasp. 

 

“Will you ever stop being a pain in my ass?” the Summer said, voice thick with emotion in Taehyung’s ear. He felt his friend shake just a tiny bit, his cling growing tighter by the second. 

 

“Would I really be me if I wasn’t?” Taehyung choked out, buried beneath the love and weight of his friend. It was nice to finally be weighed down by something he actually welcomed. The embrace made him feel fuzzy and warm, relieving the worst of his discomfort. 

 

Jimin pulled back a tiny bit with his hands on Taehyung’s shoulders, his pink lips sticking out in a pout as he glared at the Spring. “I’m here for you, Tae. You drive me absolutely nuts, but I still love you, I always will. Even without being your cohort, I’d still be by your side for forever. Yoongi is the same.”

 

Gratefulness surged through Taehyung, immensely comforted by the unconditional love of his friend. 

 

Even with all the shit regarding his season, even with all the shit regarding Jungkook, Taehyung always had Jimin and Yoongi at his back. He may have been the luckiest person alive to have met such good friends, and even luckier to have them as his cohort. 

 

He pulled Jimin into a tight embrace again, hoping the love and care he felt reached him. 

 

“Thanks, Jiminie. I don’t know what I’d do without you,” he said softly. It was true, Taehyung didn’t think his life would’ve gotten this far without him.

 

Jimin’s warm breath hit his shoulder as he snorted. “You’d probably be dead in a ditch somewhere, or still buying anime DVDs instead of streaming it illegally.”

 

Taehyung giggled in return. “I’m not sure which is worse, to be honest. Actually, throw me in the ditch.”

 

His friend didn’t pull away as he continued to speak into Taehyung’s ear, quieter even though there was not a soul within earshot. 

 

“Tell Jungkookie to keep it in his pants tonight, eh? Or don’t actually, the poor soul probably deserves it after what you put him through.”

 

The Spring was as red as a tomato when Jimin finally released him. He cackled in the way he always did, his eyes like small crescents as Taehyung smacked him. “I love you and Jungkook so much, Tae. All I want is for you both to be safe and happy.” 

 

The pair jumped as the beep of a horn blared through the cold air. Taehyung looked to Yoongi, seeing the Winterborne waving a hand from the driver’s seat, a fake scowl on his face. He pretended to point at his watch, even though his narrow wrist was bare.

 

“Oh shut up, you old geezer, I’m on the way,” Jimin yelled, gripping tightly to Taehyung’s hands. His flecked eyes stared into Taehyung’s veridian pair with a fiery compassion. 

 

“We’re here for you, okay?” he said, letting go only after a final squeeze. “I mean it.”

 

Taehyung believed him.

 

Jimin was laughing as he jogged back to the car. “Happy birthday Taetae, and text me later! I want all the dirty details!”

 

The blonde shook his head, yelling obscenities laced with love in his direction. 

 

As he regathered his things, the bags not nearly as heavy as they had felt earlier, Taehyung finally felt the smallest bit of weight tumble off his shoulders. 

 

~

 

There was only one more corner before Taehyung would finally reach the lobby of his dorm building, only having made it so far thanks to the small bit of energy Jimin’s hug had injected into him. Only a few more yards before he could rest, a few more minutes before he could sleep. It seemed like an eternity away.

 

An eternity after whatever the hell was supposed to happen with Jungkook.

 

The campus was eerily quiet thanks to the winter break, the sidewalks usually teeming with students now empty as they slowly faded in the darkening evening light. Taehyung missed the bustle of his busy classmates, preferring to see other lives being carried out in front of him as motivation to continue his own journey, and the absence of his peers only seemed to exacerbate the isolated feelings he carried lately. 

 

“Happy birthday, Taehyungie.”

 

The blonde jumped nearly a foot into the air as a voice greeted him from the side of the building. 

 

Cold flooded his veins at the sound, the barely visible scar on his throat prickling with discomfort. He wished he hadn’t known that voice as well as he did. Leaning against the grey stone was the last Winterborne he wanted to see right now, decked out in a dark turtleneck and steel-toed boots.

 

“Why the fuck are you here?”

 

Lucas shot Taehyung an impish grin. “Now, now, Tae. Is that any way to talk to such an old friend?”

 

Taehyung wanted to rip Lucas’s smile from his face and stomp on it. There was a predatory gleam in his light blue eyes that he had become accustomed to over the years, but it still sent a chill down his spine when it cropped up out of nowhere.

 

Had everyone intended to make it as difficult as possible to see Jungkook today? 

 

“You have ten seconds to spew your bullshit before I dial Jungkook,” Taehyung said firmly, withdrawing his phone from his coat pocket. 

 

The chilling laugh from the Winter had Taehyung nearly shivering, his weakened state ready to buckle under the stress of yet another confrontation. 

 

“I don’t think you’d want him here for what I have to tell you,” his voice low and expression still mischievous, though Taehyung could tell when Lucas was being serious. This was more than likely one of the few times he was.

 

Biting his lip, Taehyung stared at Jungkook’s contact on his phone, keeping it unlocked and in his grasp as he slowly returned it to his pocket. 

 

“Spill it.”

 

The smirk slowly fell from the Winter’s face as he spoke, his voice almost disinterested. 

 

“They know about you and the Winter prince now,” he said simply. “I was forced to confirm it.”

 

Heart steadily approaching racing levels, Taehyung felt his body go rigid as his suspicions were confirmed. There hadn’t been a sliver of a doubt that they’d find out about Jungkook’s bloodline with their sway over Lucas, but it still had been nice to dream that maybe Jungkook could’ve escaped the hell Taehyung and Lucas belonged to. 

 

So much for that.

 

“Your father would like to offer you a few options.”

 

Taehyung laughed loudly, his harsh tone ringing through the air like a clear bell. “How generous of him,” he said, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Tell me, what has he graciously offered this time?”

 

Lucas’s mouth twisted into a frown as he hesitated. 

 

“You can come be with me-”

 

“Out of the question.” Taehyung dismissed him with a wave of his hand. “Next.”  

 

The Winter stared at him with sky blue eyes, his expression caught between bored and affronted. “Is your little prince really that good?” 

 

Snorting, Taehyung rolled his eyes. “Yes, probably the best thing in this life and the next.” 

 

Shaking his head, Lucas seemed stunned by Taehyung’s honesty. The blonde was pleased he surprisingly didn’t push the issue further. 

 

“The other is that you bring him to us, enter a partnership and act upon request.”

 

Taehyung wanted to explode.

 

“Also out of the question.” 

 

The silver-haired Winter clenched his fists at Taehyung’s flat dismissal. “You can’t just say no, Taehyung, you know this.” He ran a hand through his silver locks, looking more exhausted than the Spring had ever seen him. “Look, believe it or not, I actually don’t want you to get hurt. You know I’ve always… cared about you.”

 

Taehyung swallowed, feeling like shards of ice were stuck in his throat. “Thanks for the concern, Luc, especially after you held a knife to my throat a little while ago, but the answer is still and always will be no. I don’t care if they drag me away, I won’t put Jungkook through this. You know better than anyone that it’s- it’s not living.”

 

A rare, sympathetic glance passed between the two as both mulled over the darkness that plagued their shared past. Just because a cloud of shadow was doomed to follow them both didn’t mean Taehyung was willing to lead Jungkook into it.

 

“...There- there was a second part to the offering,” Lucas said quietly, his shifty behavior strange to Taehyung’s knowing eyes. The Winter was actually fidgeting, something he hadn’t seen him do since they were kids. 

 

“And?”

 

Lucas glanced at him, toying with his shimmering earring, the sapphire dangling in the air positively gleaming in the overcast lighting of winter. 

 

“In return for entering the partnership, they’ll give him access to the equinoctial drug.”

 

If he had felt like he was going to collapse earlier, nothing compared to the weight Taehyung felt crash onto his shoulders, the knowledge of such an offer almost oppressive.

 

He and Jungkook… there was hope for them, a possibility that they could finally touch one another with the drug derived from those with rare equinoctial seasons. It was what allowed Lucas to freely touch Taehyung, even though the Spring had always despised the contact anyway.

 

They could speak the language Jungkook seemed to know best, the final piece of their connection coming together. It had Taehyung fantasizing on the spot, feeling both chilled and warmed at the thought of freely running his fingers along Jungkook’s cheeks, holding his hand, connecting their bodies…

 

But Taehyung thought of a soulless Jungkook, one shaped into a weapon at Taehyung’s Spring call. It had disturbed him even in his attempts to do so with Lucas, and Taehyung could barely even stand him. Pushing Jungkook to that limit, being the cause of his torment… it wasn’t worth it. 

 

He took a deep breath, cold air prickling in his lungs. Jungkook’s freedom was worth far more than Taehyung’s selfish desire. 

 

“My answer still stands.”

 

Jaw dropping, Lucas seemed to freeze on the spot in shock. “You realize they’ll come for you either way? You can’t escape this, Taehyung!” The silver-haired man approached, almost ready to shake Taehyung with outstretched arms before stopping himself. “What would running away achieve when you could get something out of it instead?”

 

The blonde snorted, unconsciously casting his eyes in the direction he knew his shared room was located.  

 

“Jungkook deserves to be set free,” Taehyung said, his voice low with admiration. “He doesn’t need to be chained to me because my shithead father says so.”

 

“But… aren’t you bonded? He’s chained to you already,” Lucas pointed out, frustration in his eyes. 

 

The Springborne shrugged. “Maybe, but regal separation is nothing compared to the guilt I would feel for bringing Jungkook into this.”

 

Sighing, the Winter before him put a palm to his face. “I’m telling you right now, they won’t let this go. They expected you to agree immediately.” He eyed Taehyung with apprehension. “All you’re doing is putting a target on both of your backs.”

 

Taehyung knew he was correct, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He’d had enough of the fucking games lately. Being a pawn got old most days, but threatening Jungkook was a new level of hell.

 

“I’m not giving my father the satisfaction of using the person I love against me again, Lucas. You can tell him that, word for word, sign it with a heart even. I’m not falling for his bullshit hoaxes ever again,” he growled, green eyes flaring with anger. 

 

The Winter swallowed, staring down Taehyung with a furrowed brow. 

 

“Whatever. I warned you, don’t come bitching to me when this blows up.”

 

Hefting his bags further up his shoulder, Taehyung turned away from Lucas, exhaustion permeating every muscle he had. 

 

“Kindly remind my father that my mother’s self-proclaimed favorite day of the year was my current birthday,” he said firmly, brushing past Lucas without a care in the world. 

 

He didn’t bother to give him a final glance as Taehyung entered the dorm building, even knowing there were burning eyes of icy blue on his back, not when he knew another sapphire pair he had longed to see were waiting for him.


~

 

“...What the hell?” 

 

The first thing Taehyung noticed was the heavenly scent of cinnamon nearly drenching the room from top to bottom. It was a heavy dose of medicine to his weakened state, the syrup snaking down his chest to spread through his veins as he inhaled deeply. 

 

The second thing he noticed was Jungkook, his blue eyes sparkling like starlight as he stood in the middle of the room, a round cake in his hand. Strawberries were placed artfully in a circular pattern atop the cake, their color emphasized by the generous pink frosting covering it, while a singular candle flickered happily in the center. 

 

“S-surprise?!” Jungkook’s cheeks were reddened as he stuttered, an avalanche of nervousness in his eyes. “Uh, I mean, surprise!” 

 

The exclamation was jarring and endearing all at once in Taehyung’s state of shock, the surroundings alight with a vibrance he had never seen in their shared room. 

 

There was a coziness to everything while music streamed from Taehyung’s little radio, the string lights on both sides of the room contrasting in their distinctly warm and cool tones. His laptop screen was bright and alive, the Overwatch menu logged in and ready to go. On his bed was Jungkook’s laptop with the same game running, and when Taehyung squinted, he saw they were in a party together already. 

 

Beside Taehyung’s computer was a prettily wrapped gift, the paper shimmering with holographic tones that had Taehyung’s eyes sparkling, the box tied with a thin, green ribbon. It looked too perfectly wrapped for something asking to be ripped open, but Taehyung still felt eager to do so anyway.

 

Beneath the layers of cinnamon, Taehyung was surprised to smell meat wafting through the air, wondering if Jungkook had cooked dinner for himself earlier. 

 

“There’s- there’s dinner in the kitchen. Stir fry but with real noodles this time,” the Winter said hastily when Taehyung had angled his head toward the doorway.

 

Taehyung couldn’t breathe enough to respond. He couldn’t think, couldn’t function. He was completely and utterly unprepared for the possibility that Jungkook didn’t actually hate him, or at least maybe dislike him, but surprising him with a gift? Dinner? A cake? A gaming night? 

 

The blonde’s eyes were wide as he scanned the room, uncertain of how to even begin to speak to Jungkook, how to explain all that had happened, all that could happen-

 

Taehyung’s gaze snagged an unfamiliarity on the furthest wall, observing the mural that he had slaved over for months. When he had initially started the project, the prospect of such a large scale work with no restrictions had excited him, filling him with visions of a forest punctuated by a meadow of flowers. Half of the wall had been mostly completed, the mossy, green trees dominating the space in strokes, his impressionistic style both imprecise and well-thought out.

 

But as time continued on, Taehyung had found his idealistic version of what he wanted changing so rapidly that he could no longer pinpoint what he even wanted it to be. It had always been a mess in the back of his mind, a swarm of darkened colors that brought no joy to him by the end. Staring at it every day had reminded him of his failures, of his unwillingness to stray from what he was comfortable with. 

 

Jungkook had completed it. 

 

Approaching the wall in a daze, Taehyung stared up at the leafless trees, marveling at their realism. Jungkook had a knack for precision in his photorealistic pieces, his linework undeniably attentive and clean. And the details… from the smallest blades of grass to the dusting of snow on the newly finished side, Jungkook had given them all careful treatment. Taehyung felt like he was staring into the treeline of the winter woods outside his grandparents’ house, the scene a slumbering, crisp insight into the coldest season, ready to be awoken by the colorful, humming vibration of Taehyung’s hazy spring.  

 

The creation was a perfect clash of their styles and seasons, Jungkook’s meeting Taehyung’s with an impeccable blend as they all but melted into one another. 

 

His heart was going to burst into a thousand pieces. How was it possible that Jungkook knew him this well? 

 

What the hell had he done to deserve to be loved by someone like Jungkook?

 

Taehyung turned to him then, any semblance of words lost to him. He didn’t feel like he was crying, but if he really paid attention, the streaky heat on his face must’ve been tears. He was sick of crying lately, but he couldn’t help it - Jungkook made him feel more than he thought was ever possible, and his useless body just couldn't hold it in.

 

“Wait- don’t-,” Jungkook spluttered from beside him, the cake having been abandoned on Taehyung’s desk. His hands waved worriedly in the air, both reaching to the Spring and keeping a distance from him, as if Jungkook was afraid of breaking him. “I’m- I’m sorry, I didn’t want you to cry, please don’t-”

 

The collision was scorching when Taehyung threw himself around Jungkook, wrapping his arms around the Winter’s neck like his life depended on it. Jungkook was rigid beneath him for a few moments before relaxing, eventually returning the embrace with his hands tightly wrapped around the Spring’s waist and his head buried in Taehyung’s shoulder. 

 

They breathed deeply together, hearts in sync as they took in each other’s captivating scents at the source. Taehyung was sure he was shaking in Jungkook’s arms, but he didn’t care. He had missed this so much that any action felt like it was done with reckless abandon. 

 

“You really didn’t have to do all this for me,” Taehyung said quietly, unwilling to relinquish his vice grip on the Winter. The heat between them was sweltering as skin beneath their clothes sizzled in protest, but Taehyung had come to look forward to the sensation.

 

He felt Jungkook’s hand twirl in his hair, the small sign of affection sending waves of heat through him. “I- I wanted to apologize,” Jungkook mumbled over his shoulder. Taehyung wanted to pull himself apart at the remorse in his voice. “I shouldn’t have pushed you the way I did. I’m not entitled to your trust and I don’t know why I acted like I was.”

 

Taehyung shook his head in protest, careful not to brush against the Winter’s neck. “That’s not it at all. It was me, I-”

 

“Don’t,” Jungkook interrupted, his voice gentle. Arms still wrapped around his waist, Jungkook pulled away to look at him, his eyes having transitioned to a burning gold. “I know there’s a lot to talk about, and I have some questions, but…” Jungkook dragged his gaze to the cake awaiting them on the desk. “It’s only your birthday for a few more hours.” 

 

He fidgeted with Taehyung’s strands, biting his lip. It made Taehyung want to kiss the nervousness off his face. “I-I really wanted to spend tonight with you, Tae.”  

 

When the gold orbs met Taehyung’s again, Jungkook’s eyes smiling before his face did, it was hard to convince himself he wasn’t evaporating on the spot.

 

Taehyung took Jungkook’s hands with a boxy smile on his face, the sleeves of his jacket covering his palms as always. There was still weight on his shoulders, pressing down with bone crushing strength, but with Jungkook beside him, Taehyung felt like he could carry the world.

 

“Let’s enjoy ourselves for once, shall we?”


~


Taehyung was ready to burst. Only crumbs remained of the strawberry cake that Jungkook had baked for him from scratch, each and every piece having been devoured by the pair, and only after they shared a full meal of stir fry. It was far too much food, but Taehyung’s weak body desperately needed it as he recovered from separating from his bonded partner. 

 

Not to mention, everything made by Jungkook was beyond delicious, so much so that it felt like he was eating for the first time. 

 

“I totally could’ve beaten you if I wasn’t going to actually explode,” Taehyung groaned, rubbing his hands along his protruding stomach while his laptop swayed atop his knees.

 

Jungkook giggled from beside him on the bed, their backs against the dividing wall with his computer in front of him. “Yeah, sure,” he said with a wide grin, elbowing Taehyung where their sleeved arms pressed together. “That’s why you fell off the map three times, right?”

 

The blonde poked at Jungkook’s muscled thigh in protest, relishing every contact point between them. In fact, not only were their arms pressed together, but legs closest to each other were tangled as well. Taehyung was always wriggling, feeling the need to playfully touch Jungkook in every way possible. It was almost like he wanted to make up for the lost time they had spent dancing around one another, or maybe that he didn’t want to waste what limited time they had.

 

At one point, Taehyung had poked him with his socked foot, grumbling incessantly about being sniped for the sixth time during their 1v1 match.

 

“Can you at least let me leave the base?!” he cried exasperatedly, gesturing to the screen. Cackling evilly, Jungkook continuously mowed Taehyung’s character down without mercy, barely allowing him to play before he was killed again. Taehyung whined next to him, swaying his whole upper body into Jungkook’s space, but the stupidly talented Winter could still take him out even with a blonde mop blocking his view.

 

Switching characters, Taehyung spawned a final time, only to die in one shot before he had even taken a step.

 

“Okay, that’s it.” 

 

With a scrunched pout, the Spring put his laptop to the side and rolled to his knees, arming himself with one of his many pillows. He raised the fluffy, white cushion above his head in a threatening position over Jungkook, catching only a glimpse of an open-mouthed Winter before slapping it down upon his darkened mess of hair without hesitation. 

 

“Hey!” a muffled voice came from beneath the assault as Taehyung giggled wildly, smacking Jungkook with the pillow repeatedly as the Winter shielded his rocking laptop. “Easy on the merchandise! You know this is my baby!”

 

Taehyung hit him with a particularly firm smack to the face, feeling overjoyed to have Jungkook near him, though a voice in his ear whispered to him that it wasn’t near enough. “Oh, alright, I see where your loyalties lie.” Another smack. “Your laptop is your baby, huh? What about the rest of us?”

 

Butterflies stirred in his stomach, knowing he was toeing a boundary between friendly playfulness and flirtation, but Taehyung surged for the opportunity. It may have been the colorful wings always fluttering in his mind giving him the courage to do so.

 

He knew Jungkook was whipped for him, but the question was how much.

 

“The- the rest of you?” Jungkook said curiously, his face quickly approaching crimson. The Winter seemed to pause for a moment as the implication sunk in, but it was only a breath before a smirk was twisting on his face. Carefully shutting his laptop and putting it aside, Jungkook lurched for his assailant, tackling an excited Taehyung around the waist. The force knocked the Spring backward with a huff, his head landing softly on the mountain of pillows and blankets he kept packed tightly in the corner of his bed. 

 

“Hmm..” Jungkook tilted his head where it hovered above Taehyung, hands caging the Spring where he lay. The spirited glint in his blazing, golden eyes had Taeyhyung’s butterflies growing into a roar as he bit his lip. 

 

“Are you asking…” fingers brushed against Taehyung’s armpits, the touch light and fluttering, “...if maybe...” he bent his knuckles, “I should make someone else my baby instead?” 

 

Taehyung squealed as Jungkook’s gentle motions suddenly became a tickling frenzy, the cheerful air infectious as he was flooded with happiness. To his delight and dismay, Jungkook was a damn good tickler, pinning Taehyung down with his legs while his hands found the all the spots that had the blonde nearly writhing as he laughed. Jungkook’s toothy smile only served to make Taehyung’s heart soar ever higher, the jabs to his arms and chest doing minimal damage to the firm muscle. 

 

Seeing Jungkook so elated may have been his favorite thing on earth. 

 

“S-stop, Kookie!” he wheezed, breathless with laughter and eyes leaking with tears as he failed to roll around. “You might actually kill me at this rate.” His chest was as light as the clouds with Jungkook’s giggles ringing out over him. 

 

“Mmm?” Jungkook inquired, his voice alluring. “What was that? ‘Kookie’, you said?” His golden gaze was darkening, and even in his gleeful hysterics, Taehyung felt his skin prickle with heat. This Jungkook was new, his cocky attitude indecipherable. 

 

Taehyung wanted all of it.

 

“Yes, Kookie . Why, do you have a problem with that name?” he pouted, eyes still squinting with laughter even as Jungkook’s motions slowed, the frantic tickles gradually transitioning to a drag of nails over clothed skin. 

 

Jungkook’s hair hung around his shadowed face as he stared down at Taehyung, the weight of his straddled position holding him to the bed. “The only people I call baby are the ones who call me it first,” he said, his voice low as fingertips brushed along Taehyung’s abdomen, leaving a path of sparks in their wake. 

 

Shivers danced over Taehyung’s skin as his senses were overwhelmed. Between Jungkook’s prickling touch, the sweltering heat their bodies shared, the luscious scent and the exhilaration fluttering in his veins, Taehyung genuinely wondered if Jungkook was the one with manipulative powers. 

 

Or maybe he was just that whipped for Jungkook. 

 

“Kookie baby,” he called with all the confidence he could muster, a covered hand reaching up to tip Jungkook’s chin as his cheeks reddened. It was terribly embarrassing to feel wrapped around his finger so easily, but the time of giving a shit had long passed. He was sick of holding back. “There. Is that good enough?”

 

Jungkook’s cheeks were cutely flushed but his eyes were surprisingly daring when he tipped forward, leaning on his elbows to hover inches from Taehyung’s face. He brought his mouth down to Taehyung’s ear, the Spring swearing he could feel the ghost of a touch against it as he sucked in a sharp breath. It was immensely difficult for Taehyung not to arch his back out of pure instinct when their bodies met.

 

“Mm.. not sure I heard you.” Nails were on the sides of Taehyung’s neck, still sharp through the material of Jungkook’s black pullover. Taehyung’s heart stuttered as a trail of subdued burns were traced from behind his ear to the tip of his chin. Jungkook’s piercing gaze followed his touch, almost predatory as he absorbed Taehyung’s features with flaring eyes.

 

“B-baby,” Taehyung repeated breathlessly, his mouth parting in an attempt to bring air to his dysfunctional lungs. He felt the tips of Jungkook’s fingers increase in pressure just a hair as the pet name left his lips. As he inhaled, he was greeted by the swirling scent of cinnamon and… honey?

 

As if he couldn’t have gotten any more attractive, it seemed Jungkook was revealing a new facet to his scent. It rocked through Taehyung like an aphrodisiac, sweeping away any prior worries and replacing them with only thoughts of Jungkook, and of what he wanted Jungkook to do to him.

 

“God, Tae,” Jungkook said, his voice taught with want, “how can you smell so fucking good?” The Winter brushed his nose in Taehyung’s hair, inhaling deeply while he was careful not to touch his scalp. Heat ran down Taehyung’s spine as Jungkook’s breath tickled his follicles. “There’s- there’s honey now, in your scent. It’s-”

 

Swallowing thickly, Jungkook gently brought his arms to frame Taehyung again, his heavy-lidded eyes a radiant golden flame. “Tell me if this isn’t okay,” he said with a shaky breath, tone perfectly patient and gaze thick with compassion even in their haze as he adjusted himself.

 

Taehyung was sure his heart had reached max capacity for love every time his roommate looked at him that way, but Jungkook just kept administering it, and Taehyung kept taking it. 

 

In a slow, deliberate motion, Jungkook brought his hips down to meet the Spring’s in a collision that instantly had a whine on Taehyung’s lips. His hands shot out of their own volition, latching onto Jungkook’s narrow waist as if to anchor him. 

 

Taehyung was no saint. He had plenty of sex with a wide variety of people in an even wider variety of settings, but no one came within a thousand miles of how Taehyung felt just with Jungkook rolling his hips against him. It put any other feeling to shame, the contact a burn so pleasurable that it was hard not to cry out at every touch. 

 

And they still had clothes on. 

 

“Jungkook,” he moaned, arching his back to bring them closer together as Jungkook rubbed against him. His coherent thought was fading quickly, though the thought of burning the Winter’s bare skin was ever present in his mind. 

 

It was infuriating as Jungkook pressed down with more force, the hardness in his pants finally brushing directly against Taehyung’s. Their voices tangled as both groaned loudly at the friction, glimmering eyes locking with their pupils blown wide. It was infuriating how much Taehyung wanted his skin against the Winter’s, how unfair it seemed that they were so compatible with such a stark incompatibility like being unable to touch between them.

 

Taehyung wanted nothing more than to smash his lips against Jungkook’s, to feel the softness of his mouth and taste the mint he knew lingered there, and by the way Jungkook was looking at him with a heavy stare, he knew the feeling was mutual. The hunger sharpening the features of Jungkook’s normally softened face had Taehyung nearly begging for his touch.

 

Jungkook continued to roll his hips, the pace increasing with the rate of his breathing. Despite the barrier, Taehyung still writhed beneath him, the pleasure heightening at every thrust. He needed to be touched, now, or he was going to burst at the seams.

 

“K-kookie, please,” he begged, unsure of what he was asking for. 

 

“Please what, Tae?” Jungkook responded, his wrecked voice so deep it had Taehyung thrusting upwards out of pure need. 

 

“I- I need to touch.” He snaked a hand down between their clothed bodies, shivering when he brushed along the bulge of his hard cock. The tension was starting to feel almost painful, the desperation for Jungkook thrumming through his veins. “Can I? Please?”

 

At Jungkook’s nod, Taehyung let his hand cup the front Jungkook’s member, stroking the hardness through their clothes with a painful slowness. He wasn’t at all shocked to feel the Winter was sizeable, more girth than length, almost exactly what Taehyung had imagined (because, hey, he couldn’t not imagine fucking Jungkook after all those shirtless displays). Jungkook choked at the sudden contact, his arms nearly buckling as he shook under the pressure of Taehyung’s hot fingertips.

 

“Fuck,” Jungkook said through gritted teeth, his nose dangerously close to Taehyung’s neck as he bucked into Taehyung’s hand, small sounds leaving his lips. Half of the blonde felt fearful at the unavoidable pain of Jungkook’s touch as he flew within close proximity of his skin, but the majority of him longed for the Winter to close the gap, burns be damned. 

 

The more he thought about Jungkook’s teeth on his skin, the more the image had him reeling.

 

“Bite me, Jungkook,” Taehyung said urgently, his blazing eyes locking onto the pair flittering above him, never pausing his stroking motion. Jungkook sat up, staring at him with wide eyes as Taehyung’s statement registered. 

 

“You know it’ll hurt like hell,” he said tightly, chest heaving as he struggled for coherency at Taehyung’s persistent caress. The Spring knew Jungkook was a terrible liar, the sentiment truer now than ever before. His eyes were nearly screaming with the desire to do exactly what Taehyung had asked of him. “D- Don’t get too caught up in-”

 

Taehyung was pulling Jungkook by his pullover towards him, his hand only quickening it’s pace on Jungkook’s cock as their bodies came together again. Even the friction of the back of his hand between them had Taehyung groaning again, jerking his hips up in a mindless motion. 

 

Everything felt feverish, nearly perfect with Jungkook pinning him down. He knew he couldn’t get everything he wanted, but right now, Taehyung could comfortably get off to just the feeling of Jungkook on top of him alone. 

 

Jungkook’s low moan in his ear had Taehyung whining in his throat. “Are you sure?” he whispered, his tense voice still thick with so much need that Taehyung was rolling his hips again. 

 

“Please, I want you so bad, Jungkook. Just- do it.” 

 

A deep, shaky inhale came from the Winter, his breath less than a hair from Taehyung’s sordid skin where his collarbone ended and his neck began. Taehyung was shaking with anticipation, not a doubt in his mind that this was what he wanted. 

 

Color exploded in Taehyung’s vision as Jungkook lips brushed against his skin, the sharp sting of his teeth surfacing a moment later. Taehyung thought he might’ve been incinerated as Jungkook moaned loud and low against him, the primal sound vibrating along the veins in his neck. There was pain, terrible pain, but it was easily dulled by the explosion of pleasure in Taehyung’s gut, the fire he had been kindling through their brushes and touches threatening to burst at any moment. 

 

“Feels so good, baby,” he whined, eyes watering with the overwhelming mix of euphoric pleasure and scorching venom. Jungkook was grinding into his hand, indecipherable words leaving his lips against Taehyung’s skin. “I’m- I’m close.”

 

Jungkook was all but smashing their hips together, seemingly drowning in the connection between their bodies, however small. “Me too,” he breathed, sending shivers down Taehyung’s spine as his hot breath caressed his cheek. He tried to pull away from his place at the Spring’s neck, but Taehyung was clawing at him within seconds.

 

“More, Kookie, please,” he begged, tears leaking from his eyes at the insatiable desire consuming him. “I’m so close-”

 

There was no hesitation in Jungkook this time as he licked at the wound blooming on Taehyung’s neck, biting down with more force than the previous. 

 

There was nothing more than the two of them in Taehyung’s mind as an inferno slammed through him, the unbelievable presence of Jungkook ripping him apart piece by piece and putting him back together all at once. At the stuttering of the Winter’s hips, his own name loud in his ear, Taehyung was coming with a breaking force, a blinding white drowning out his vision as every wavelength of color blurred together. Jungkook was not far behind, riding the palm of Taehyung’s hand and panting in his ear as his own bliss overcame him, coming hard at the powerful strokes. 

 

Pain radiated from the lower part of Taehyung’s neck, travelling down his arm to his fingertips, but he almost didn’t feel it, not with a shaking Jungkook on top of him, their bodies still thrumming with adrenaline as they came down from their highs. 

 

Soft, plush material lingered on his teary cheeks when Taehyung opened his eyes, the vision before him swimming with gold. Jungkook brought their heads together, careful to use their sticky hair as a barrier, the sweat clinging to them both like a second skin. 

 

“We’re kind of needy, aren’t we?” Taehyung chuckled, feeling as if the world had righted itself for a moment as Jungkook snorted in response.

 

“You call that needy? You’re- You’re fucking incredible, Tae,” Jungkook whined, his starry eyes a crescent shape as they crinkled. “Every time I think you’ve peaked, you prove me wrong. I don’t see how this is fair.”

 

The blunt honesty after the intimacy they had shared had Taehyung’s flushed face beaming. “You’re not too bad yourself, you know, considering I just came in my pants because of you. What are we, teenagers?” 

 

His roommate giggled softly, the honeyed sound wrapping it’s grasp around Taehyung’s overflowing heart. “Just desperate, maybe.”

 

He hadn’t been wrong. Taehyung could easily spend this life and the next with Jungkook. 

 

“I want to stay here and cuddle but this is gross,” Taehyung said with a yawn, tiredness quickly taking the place of adrenaline as he gestured to the damp spot on his pants. After his agonizingly long day, there was nothing in the world he wanted more than to snuggle against Jungkook’s chest and stare up at his starry ceiling, and he planned to do just that.

 

~

 

A few minutes, a couple changes of clothes and many distracting touches later, the pair found themselves finally wrapped in Jungkook’s dark comforter, their long shirts, pants and socks suffocating but unfortunately necessary. 

 

Taehyung fiddled with the thin, silver chain around his neck, the tiny weight of a sapphire stone feeling unfamiliar but soothing where it laid. The crystalline teardrop was cool on his skin, and the solid, reassuring presence made Taehyung’s insides wiggle with contentment.

 

Jungkook had gifted him the piece of jewelry for his birthday, having nearly passed out with embarrassment when Taehyung had opened it. He wondered how it was physically possible someone could be so enticingly seductive in one moment, but endearingly cute in the next.

 

The Winter had explained the necklace was given to him by his grandmother, but that it just seemed ‘right’ giving it to Taehyung, and that he had hoped it brought him comfort when they were apart. The sentiment had him overwhelmed with fondness, especially when Jungkook had gingerly clasped it around his neck with delicacy, always mindful of touching Taehyung’s bare skin.

 

It was even more precious than Jungkook had known, not understanding he was entrusting a regal heirloom to Taehyung. The Spring had known the second it touched him that power lay within the sparkling gem, its rich history almost an entity of its own. The bestowal meant far more than Jungkook understood, as heirlooms were often swapped between princes when they were mated, but Taehyung didn’t find it necessary to tell him just yet. 

 

The soft beat of Jungkook’s heart had Taehyung’s eyes feeling heavy already, leg haphazardly thrown over the Winter like a koala. Jungkook was so tolerant of his clinginess that it made Taehyung feel tingly with affection. 

 

They laid in comfortable silence for awhile, Jungkook occasionally playing with Taehyung’s hair as their scents tangled in a similar manner to their limbs. But the silence gave Taehyung almost too much time to think, too much time for the thoughts of darkness and foreboding to swirl around in his head. It was too good an opportunity to come clean about everything to Jungkook, from the bloodline to Taehyung’s past, from the painting to Taehyung’s love for him. 

 

Did he really have to ruin the most perfect night with his baggage?

 

“Tae,” his roommate suddenly spoke, his voice careful in the darkness. “I’m sure you’re too tired to talk much, but…”

 

Taehyung froze, his breath catching as he filled with dread. It hadn’t just been him - Jungkook had been thinking deeply as well.

 

He really needed to start giving the man he loved more credit.

 

“Can you at least fill me in on one thing?” 

 

There was a shift in their positions as Taehyung withdrew to his own pillow, his stare half obscured by the plush cushion cradling his head. 

 

Jungkook’s eyes were beaming with gold as he rubbed at them. Taehyung didn’t think he had stopped responding to their bond all night.

 

“What the hell is with the gold?” 

 

Sighing deeply, Taehyung twisted until he faced the ceiling, wishing the fabricated universe could swallow him. The balance in his mind tipped dangerously back and forth, wondering if he should open himself up to Jungkook, or continue to maintain the facade of innocence. 

 

Jungkook could know about Taehyung’s role in the Syndicate, but he sure as hell wasn’t finding out there was a role there awaiting him.

 

In perfect Taehyung fashion, he chose the middle ground.

 

“We’re bonded,” he answered simply, curating his words as they left him. “Our seasons are so pure because we have regal bloodlines, descended from the original four monarchs.”

 

Jungkook stared at him, eyebrows raised. “Uh.. okay, monarchs, that’s new. How the hell did I just find this out now?”

 

Pressing his lips into a narrow line, Taehyung’s heart sped to a rapid pace as he contemplated how to explain. Revealing even a little of who he really was to Jungkook was terrifying, but also exhilarating. 

 

Truthfully, he wanted Jungkook to know all of him, from the smallest to largest traits, but Taehyung valued his safety more than his own desire to feel accepted.

 

“You’ve heard your whole life that Springborne and Winterborne are enemies, and it’s because of our bloodlines. In actuality, the first Spring and Winter were mated for life, their children the mixed princes and princesses of either season.” 

 

Jungkook nodded solemnly beside him, his full attention on Taehyung’s words.

 

“When it became obvious Winterborne usually had far more raw power than any other season, they were sought after to pass their genes down. Unfortunately, the original Autumn monarch was not happy, since the asshole wanted to maintain her bloodline, and it was dwindling with so many mixing with Winter, so…”

 

Taehyung bit his lip, feeling anger bubble at a being that was practically fictional. “She used the original gift given to only regal Autumnborne, the power to change, to alter the genes of existing Spring and Winter so that they responded negatively to each other’s touch, obviously leading to... reproductive issues.”

 

His brow furrowed, Jungkook was contemplative as his fingers twirled Taehyung’s golden locks absentmindedly. 

 

“There are so few Springs and Winters because many were already together during that time. The chances of passing on their genes became null without the ability to reproduce together. Since then, Spring and Winter have always looked to others now, their own season included. Obviously, no one is related that way anymore, that’d be gross,” he said, snorting as Jungkook scrunched his nose. 

 

“So what does the gold have to do with this?”

 

Taehyung blinked at him, admiring the vibrant, metallic shine Jungkook’s irises always held for him. “Gold means our powers are kind of locked together now, in a way,” he said nervously, afraid of Jungkook withdrawing at his implications. “The color is a reaction to ancient magic from the original mated Spring and Winter. It’s actually quite shitty for us to be apart. Springborne in particular will get sick if away from their partner too long.” 

 

It was painful to continue, but Taehyung let the words tumble from him anyway. “Springborne are… quite gifted, in a way.” He shifted his gaze away from Jungkook, unable to look at him. “When we become a bonded pair, it opens up a whole new door for the powers Winterborne can control. Essentially, all of the seasons are at your disposal.”

 

He grit his teeth, fists clenched where they were curled against him under the blanket. “But only if I’m manipulating you. You have to give yourself over to me entirely to have that happen. It’s- it’s not a pleasant experience for a partnered Winterborne. It’s actually quite easy to lose your whole identity when under the influence. Many come out of it having lost everything - their memories, languages, even love for their partner.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes were wide, his mouth parted as he absorbed Taehyung’s words. Propped on an elbow, he sat on his side, gazing down at Taehyung with an unreadable expression. 

 

“Is that- is that why you’ve always,” he hesitated, sucking in a breath. “Why you’ve always seemed to pull me to you? Almost like I didn’t have a choice, at first?”

 

It would’ve felt better if Jungkook had stabbed him.

 

“...It’s possible I had some sway, but it was never intentional. I… I could never intentionally use my full abilities on you. You’d know in a second, it feels like your soul is sucked from your body.”

 

He wasn’t sure, but Taehyung thought Jungkook might have paled in the dim lighting of his room. 

 

“But- but it is my fault you awakened at all. It starts with a Spring. You could’ve walked away as cold and icy as before if it weren’t for me busting into your life and tearing it to shreds.”

 

The quiet that enveloped them following his explanation made Taehyung ache with tension. He felt like snapping in two, feeling awful at having ruined the night. 

 

What if Jungkook felt manipulated the whole time? Fear flooded him at the thought of Jungkook walking away, especially knowing they were bonded now. What if he felt forced into it, as if Taehyung had played him like a puppet? 

 

“Tae,” Jungkook murmured, gently prodding his side. 

 

What if he hates feeling tied down to me?

 

“Tae.”

 

What if he hates this, all of this, what if he leaves me alone to-

 

Taehyung,” Jungkook said sternly, pulling him from his swirl of doubt as covered hand brushed against his face, his golden eyes still alight with a burning flame. “Hey, look at me.”

 

Taehyung’s mouth was parted, his body wrought with anxiousness as he waited for the inevitable. 

 

“I’m really happy it was you.”

 

Taehyung blinked, unable to comprehend Jungkook’s statement. It seemed far too unrealistic. 

 

“You- you should hate me, not be happy. I- I basically clipped your wings when we accidentally bonded, you’re stuck with me, I’m-”

 

“I want to be stuck with you, Taehyung,” he said tenderly, eyes overflowing with so much adoration that Taehyung could easily drown in it. “Even if we weren’t bonded, you’d never get rid of me. I’m never leaving you.”

 

Taehyung had sworn his heart was too full, spilling over the brim as soon as he had walked into the room to see Jungkook holding a cake earlier, but now he wasn’t even sure if he existed anymore with the amount of emotion consuming him. 

 

Jungkook was everything he had hoped and dreamed for, amplified a hundredfold. It was too good to be true, but here he was, laying beside him with love and kindness in his golden eyes, happy to be at Taehyung’s disposal. 

 

“You shouldn’t trust me, Jungkook,” he said, his voice cracking as he struggled not to shed tears. “I’m supposed to be your enemy for a reason, you shouldn’t-”

 

There was searing pain as Jungkook’s lips brushed against Taehyung’s for the smallest of breaths, driving the air from his lungs in a swift motion. There was pain, but also stars and galaxies in his mind, all of it accessible through a snowy, frigid channel that was Jungkook. Taehyung tasted stardust on his tongue, his mind heart racing with what felt like a shot of raw power at their contact. 

 

The universe felt turned upside down. He had never felt anything so expansive, so enticing.

 

“Is that what it’s supposed to feel like?” Jungkook said in quiet shock, blinking rapidly as his eyes flashed with stars of every color. There were so many shades in Jungkook’s irises that Taehyung felt dizzy simply observing them. 

 

It wasn’t normal for them to react so strongly, not even for the purest of bonded pairs. Jungkook’s color change was not normal. It was nothing, nothing like Taehyung had been told it was supposed to be. 

 

Jungkook… what- what are we?

 

“That was…” Taehyung was shaking, struggling to remember how to speak. “That was... new.”

 

Today had been too much, too much happiness and pressure, too many revelations, too much for a birthday. He couldn’t explain to Jungkook what he couldn’t explain himself, and he didn’t want to seem dismayed by their contact. 

 

If that hadn’t scared Jungkook off, he wasn’t sure what would.

 

“It was… a lot, but I… I think I liked it,” Jungkook said simply, sending Taehyung a small smile that revealed the tiniest sliver of teeth. 

 

Taehyung blinked in surprise.

 

Why the fuck does he understand what to say and when to say it?

 

Reaching for the Winter, Taehyung extended his arms, letting a giggling Jungkook pull him back onto his chest. He nuzzled into the familiar heat, appreciating how the burn on his neck still ached from where Jungkook had left his mark earlier. It reminded Taehyung that it had been real - that Jungkook’s desire for him and their bond had been real.

 

“I like you,” Taehyung said in delayed response. He had no clue what was happening anymore, only thinking in absolutes. Jungkook was an absolute. 

 

The scent of cinnamon was thick in the air when Jungkook replied. 

 

“I like you too, Tae. If I’m stuck with anyone, I’m lucky it’s you.”

Chapter Text

“Mention it one more time, Park Jimin, and I’ll rip that cotton candy right off your head.”

 

The Summerborne was still giggling across from Taehyung, their cups steaming with hot coffee from where they sat on the table. The coffee shop was still deserted thanks to winter break on campus, giving a very pleased Jimin and Taehyung the choice of every corner booth. 

 

Taehyung had made the mistake of taking his scarf off for one damn second, and one second was all it took for Jimin to zero in on the bloom of red and blue adorning his neck.

 

“Oh my god, finally. FINALLY. I can’t believe Jungkookie had the balls, I’m so proud,” Jimin said, pretending to wipe a tear from his eye. “So, you said he surprised you, how was it?!”

 

Taehyung threw a balled up straw wrapper at his face, a dusting of red on his cheeks. “It was… sort of perfect,” he admitted sheepishly, toying with the pendant at his neck. “He finished my mural, made me a strawberry cake that was bomb, gave me a necklace and we played games and… yeah.”

 

His best friend all but launched from his seat in excited happiness. “God, I need to hook him up with Yoongi, apparently he needs to step up his game,” he joked, his grin splitting his face nearly in two. “Poor Jungkookie doesn’t even know he gave you an heirloom. He’s making moves without even planning it.”

 

Taehyung rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t deny Jungkook had done everything right, especially not even knowing Taehyung had seen the painting. The Winter had taken a chance on Taehyung by surprising him. 

 

Taehyung still believed he didn’t deserve such faith in him.

 

Jimin munched on his croissant, his feet kicking at Taehyung’s under the table. “So, did he run out of the place screaming after you dropped the truth bomb on him?”

 

Nearly choking on his coffee, Taehyung shifted his eyes to the counter, praying he could skirt around the issue as best as possible. “I told him about the bond and the monarchs,” he said simply, hoping the explanation was enough.

 

By Jimin’s expression, it wasn’t. 

 

“That’s it?” 

 

Taehyung made a disinterested face at the rows of empty tables. 

 

“Taehyung, you know something’s going to happen sooner rather than later, you can’t keep putting this off,” his friend said sternly, glaring at him with cheeks full of bread. 

 

Taehyung was thankful Jimin couldn’t read his thoughts, because he intended to keep his meeting with Lucas to himself. Everyone was aware of the threat, confirming it made no difference. 

 

Truthfully, he just didn’t want Jimin making himself unnecessarily stressed on his behalf. He was putting them through enough by being with Jungkook and denying his father’s wishes as it was. 

 

“I know, I know,” he sighed. “I’ll tell him when-”

 

The sound of a crash from behind the counter startled them both, the barista having knocked an entire tray of to the ground. Taehyung stood quickly at the commotion, rushing to the side of the bar with fast footsteps. 

 

“Are you alright?” he asked warily, afraid the employee had gotten injured as he peered over the side. 

 

A girl sat on the ground, white powder dusting her from head to toe. The silver tray that had held what were previously a bunch of jelly donuts now sat overturned, its contents a splatter on the tiled floor. At her mortified expression, Taehyung felt a surge of sympathy. 

 

The barista seemed to be working alone that day, so Taehyung took the liberty to stroll behind the counter, bending down to pick up the mess of pastries. 

 

“Stuff like this always sucks, doesn’t it?” he said with a smile as he gathered the donuts in his arms, hoping his lightheartedness came across. The girl stared at him with wide eyes, a deep blush appearing on her cheeks when she glanced down at the mess she had created. 

 

“Y-yeah,” she answered, appearing shocked at Taehyung’s helpfulness. It took her several more seconds before she was finally moving to stand, her hands shaky as she dusted them on her uniform. 

 

After all of the runaway donuts had been disposed of, Taehyung wiped at his shirt with a napkin, the powder and jelly sticking to the dark color of Jungkook’s grey thermal. He couldn’t help but snort to himself as he thought of the many times he had returned to the dorm having trashed another piece of Jungkook’s wardrobe already. Oh he’s gonna love when I tell him how I fucked up this time. 

 

“Thank you so much for your help,” the dark haired girl said meekly, bowing before Taehyung with a regretful expression. “I’m so sorry about your shirt.”

 

Taehyung waved his hand. “Don’t worry about it, I know how it is to be stuck doing a job alone. Hang in there, okay?” He gave her a soft smile, checking the floor one more time before deciding he had done enough. 

 

Jimin’s eyebrow was arched as he sat back down at the booth, his pink hair fluffed from where he had ran a hand through it.

 

“What?” Taehyung shrugged, sipping at his coffee with the scent of jelly strong in his nose. 

 

The Summer just shook his head. “Always the damn hero, Taetae. Stop being cool for a day please.”

 

Taehyung parted his lips, wanting to argue that being a decent human being didn’t qualify as cool to him, but he stayed quiet. 

 

After a bit of casual conversation, especially one in which Taehyung was glad the serious topics had been dropped, the pair slowly made their way to the exit. Taehyung tossed his cup into the recycle bin, wondering if he should text Jungkook about his dinner plans for the evening or if he should maybe go to the grocery store. 

 

“W-wait!” 

 

Taehyung spun around at the exclamation, finding a small figure running to his position by the door. The barista approached with her hair in disarray and uniform still dusty, a small cup in her shaking hand. 

 

“Here,” she said, handing it to the Spring. He took it with a perplexed look, the paper lukewarm beneath his fingertips. 

 

When his questioning stare met hers, she seemed to freeze, likely unused to being on the spot. “It’s- it’s hot chocolate, as a thank you. Sorry again about- about your shirt.”

 

Surprised but still grateful for the free item, Taehyung shot her a small smile. “Oh, thank you! You didn’t have to do that, but I promise I’ll enjoy it.”

 

The girl reddened in front of him, her eyes shifting away at Taehyung’s kind tone. Taehyung thought it was obvious she had taken a liking to him, especially when he heard Jimin snort somewhere from behind him.

 

Still, he felt a little special thinking about how he was sort of taken already. Maybe not ‘officially’ taken, but definitely spoken for in one way or another. 

 

“Good luck with your shift,” he said to her kindly, sending her a wink before pushing his way through the glass exit doors to follow after his friend. She nodded silently, her eyes still on the dark tiles beneath their feet as they departed. 

 

Out in the cold air of winter, Jimin elbowed him when they were finally alone. “You’re so naturally flirty,” he said with a smirk. “I don’t think Jungkook would appreciate you hitting up the barista.”

 

Taehyung hip checked Jimin, shoving him nearly off the sidewalk. “You’re exaggerating, you ass,” he whined, sipping at his newly acquired drink. 

 

The beverage wasn’t at all hot on Taehyung’s tongue, but it had been a nice gesture from the poor girl, so he wasn’t complaining. If doing good deeds for others got him free hot chocolate, he’d be willing to become a saint. 

 

~

 

[Tae]
Wednesday, 3:39 PM
hey you <3

[Jungkook]
Wednesday, 3:45 PM
Hey! ^^
What’s up?

[Tae]
Wednesday, 3:45 PM
well i was kinda just bored and
sorta just
wondering where you were
and stuff….

[Jungkook]
Wednesday, 3:46 PM
Hmm…
Might that be because, I dunno
Maybe…
You miss me?

[Tae]
Wednesday, 3:48 PM
WOOOOow
wow jeon
so presumptuous, assuming that i do things like
miss you
and possibly
care about you
like
wtf!

[Jungkook]
Wednesday, 3:49 PM
Lol Tae
You can just ask me where I am
And you can tell me if you want to hang out, you know

[Tae]
Wednesday, 3:51 PM
i know buuuuut
i really dont wanna be ‘that’ bf like

………
……………………………
I did not mean to type that.
It wasn’t me.
Please ignore that.
Please end my life.

[Jungkook]
Wednesday, 3:56 PM
You’re not being ‘that’ boyfriend lol

[Tae]
Wednesday, 3:57 PM
….wait
jungkook
hold on here
does….
does that mean
were bfs?!?!!?!?
like
wait

[Tae]
Wednesday, 4:02 PM
omg please answer i might die
im sorry we dont have to be bfs
T_T
i was kidding

[Tae]
Wednesday, 4:07 PM
KOOKIE PLS
IM LIKE
ABOUT TO THROW THIS PHONE ACROSS THE ROOM
ARE WE?! ARE WE BFS?!

[Jungkook]
Wednesday, 4:07 PM
That’s a tough one……….
I can’t say for sure….
Why don’t you come to the watchtower and find out?

[Tae]
Wednesday, 4:09 PM
you will literally be the D E A T H of me
i hate you.

[Tae]
Wednesday, 4:10 PM
...i’ll be there in 15 mins <3

[Jungkook]
Wednesday, 4:11 PM
Lol don’t rush, dork
Wear at least 2 coats and gloves
I think I dropped it to below freezing

 

~

 

The air was frigid, swirling around Jungkook where he stood at the railing of the watchtower. 

 

Since discovering he and Taehyung were bonded partners half a month ago, it seemed as though the connection tempered his power enough to rarely need to release it these days, but it still felt good to exercise his control over it every now again. Like a limb, if Jungkook didn’t keep it in shape, it felt weak when it came time to call upon it. 

 

Warmth flooded him even in the freezing temperature as he scrolled through his texts with Taehyung for the third time, wondering if he had been out of line with the implication that they should become official. The thought of calling Taehyung his boyfriend alone had his cheeks reddening, even though it seemed absurd not to, since they were bonded and all. 

 

Everything seemed a little backwards regarding the development of their relationship, though it wasn’t like they had a choice. Instead of starting with the physical attraction and moving onto emotional, like Jungkook was accustomed to, he had disliked Taehyung for really no reason other than his own dumb selfishness and prejudice at the start. After that, he had practically stumbled into Taehyung’s friendship first, then his emotional side, and only recently had they began experimenting with the more… intimate side of things. 

 

And then, there was the bond.

 

He knew Taehyung had been anxious about revealing their connection rooted in ancient magic, and quite frankly, the Spring was smart to have been wary. The old Jungkook would have retaliated immediately at the loss of control, lashing out at the change in his life just for the sake of it. It felt somewhat strange, knowing he was a ‘Winter prince’, whatever the hell that meant beyond the power thing, but to Jungkook, being bonded to Taehyung was far more important than any title.

 

The fact that they had solidified the bond without even knowing it still seemed crazy to Jungkook. In the time since he had found out what their golden glowing signified, he had spent hours overthinking if he had unintentionally pushed Taehyung into something he didn’t want. It made perfect sense that it had snapped into place when Jungkook saw Taehyung with colored wings that day, the day that he had truly fallen in love with the Spring without even recognizing it, but he wasn’t sure if Taehyung loved him then.

 

He still sometimes questioned if Taehyung loved him now, even with golden proof flickering between them every moment they spent together. The thought of someone so compatible finding their way to him after a life of mostly isolation still seemed unbelievable. 

 

Everything about them had been painfully domestic lately, even more so than before, and Jungkook thrived on it. Sleeping side by side every night, making meals for each other, sharing laughs about the most ridiculous of inside jokes and even sending each other cheesy texts was Jungkook’s ideal version of happiness. 

 

Well, aside from the not touching thing.

 

It was undeniably rage-inducing every time sparks flew between them. Each time they collided, Jungkook had more and more difficulty keeping himself in check. It was hard to blame him, considering, well, it was Taehyung first of all, and with Taehyung came his enticing aura, his scent, the heat of his touch… 

 

The Spring was beautiful at all times, and Jungkook wondered if life prohibited them from touching as a way of balancing having someone like Taehyung loving him. He wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case, after all the other absurdity cropping up lately. 

 

Jungkook smelled Taehyung before he heard the sound of the trapdoor opening, the screech of the metal hinge sharp in the cool air. Lavender and vanilla greeted him as a blonde mop of wavy hair came up through the floor, bright green eyes finding his own blue pair instantly. 

 

To Jungkook’s amusement, Taehyung was winded as if he sprinted to the tower. 

 

“Why the rush?” he said with a smirk.

 

Taehyung doubled over, hands on his knees as he caught his breath, the air from his lungs emerging in visible puffs. “No- no reason.”

 

“Oh?” Jungkook said, plunging his hands into his pockets. “You’re sure it wasn’t because you missed me?”

 

Golden eyes met his own when Taehyung looked up, a wry smile on face. “You know, I remember when you weren’t so cocky. Don’t let my attention go to your head just because you have it, Jeon.”

 

Snorting, Jungkook shook his head, feeling overwhelmed with affection. The Springborne approached the spot beside him, treading carefully thanks to the thin layer of ice Jungkook had unintentionally created on the stone below them. They leaned on the railing together, elbows brushing with sparks even between Taehyung’s many layers of insulation. 

 

He appreciated that Taehyung had nothing to say about the cold, withholding complaint about Jungkook’s power. It hadn’t been within his realm of possibility that the person he loved would accept his icy tendencies, but Taehyung was always proving him wrong. 

 

“So,” Taehyung said, his baritone voice quiet in the breeze, “about that boyfriend thing…”

 

A smile split Jungkook’s face despite his best attempts to hide it. Taehyung was just as needy as he was, considering the actual nervousness he was displaying. “Oh? Not sure what you’re implying, I don’t remember hearing about any boyfriend.”

 

The size of the pout on Taehyung’s lips was one for the books as he turned to Jungkook with a look of betrayal. “But.. but you said I wasn’t being ‘that’ boyfriend! I have the text!”

 

Attempting to frown (and failing), Jungkook put a hand to his chin. “Oh, you meant you? I thought you said that wasn’t you?”

 

Taehyung’s facade was starting to crack, the corners of his lips twitching upwards despite his dramatic pout. He rolled up a sleeve, exposing his tanned skin to the cold.

 

“Alright Jeon, I see how this is gonna be.” He rolled up his other sleeve, and Jungkook had the strong desire to pull them back down. “We’ll settle this like brainless men.”

 

Laughing loudly at his ridiculous display, Jungkook braced himself as Taehyung launched at him, throwing weak punches at his toned chest. The fists felt like friendly pats, even though Jungkook himself knew Taehyung was quite strong when he wanted to be.

 

Taehyung had just wanted to touch him, he was no idiot. 

 

“You know,” Jungkook said, breathless with laughter as knuckles tapped his sides, “you could’ve just asked to touch my abs if you wanted to that badly.” 

 

Glancing up at Jungkook from his assault, Taehyung raised a brow. “Oh really?” he threw another punch, stepping into Jungkook’s space. “Touching abs sounds like something boyfriends do.”

 

He was cute, painfully cute, so much so that Jungkook wanted to actually explode.  

 

“If we were dating maybe we could-”

 

Almost in slow motion, Taehyung’s legs flew from under him, his wide eyes locking to Jungkook’s in shock as he stumbled backwards on the slippery terrain. 

 

Jungkook blinked, unsure of what he was seeing. One moment, he was with Taehyung at the top of the watchtower, and the next, he was standing on a rocky precipice, watching a dark haired girl nearly tumble to her death. 

 

“Don’t-!”

 

It was instinctual, he thought, flinching so hard he almost bit his tongue. It was instinctual to reach for those you cared about if they were in danger, no matter what the penalty be. Jungkook rarely thought about the imminent danger or consequences when it came to protecting those he loved, he only thought of the safety of those in peril. He wasn’t an overly complicated person in that regard.

 

So when his hand grabbed onto Taehyung’s bare wrist to prevent him from tumbling onto the ice, he wasn’t regretful of his actions, only bitter that it had to be so damn painful every time. 

 

But, it wasn’t. 

 

Flinging his hand back in a sharp motion after pulling Taehyung to his feet, he stared at the Spring with wide eyes, his heart racing. 

 

For awhile, the only sound was the gentle crack of icicles falling around them. 

 

“Did-did it,” he swallowed, “...hurt?”

 

Taehyung’s gold locked onto his with the same look of bewilderment. After several heartbeats, the Spring shook his head, his mouth parted in silent shock.

 

What the hell, what the hell….

 

They stood a foot apart while Taehyung ran his fingers along the vein in his own wrist, as if he were waiting for the aftershock of agony that never came. In a similar way, Jungkook stared at his palm, waiting for some sort of red to bloom there, but it was as smooth and cool as any other day. 

 

Breath quickening, Taehyung’s head snapped to Jungkook’s with urgency. 

 

“Again.”

 

Anxiety tumbled in him when the blonde took a step forward, his wrist still exposed to the bitter cold. “Try again, Jungkook.”

 

He didn’t want to, he couldn’t. Touching Taehyung was against everything he had built, against their reality. The world had been absurd lately, sure, but this was clearly some kind of dream. Tearing down their walls also meant leaving them defenseless. He would just burn the person he loved again.

 

“It’s okay,” Taehyung said soothingly, coaxing him with a honeyed tone as he brought them closer together. “Try once more. It won’t even be that bad if it’s normal.”

 

Gingerly taking Jungkook by the sleeve, Taehyung lifted the Winter’s arm so that his hand was positioned above his delicate wrist. “Go on, Kookie. There’s no harm.”

 

Of course there’s harm, he wanted to yell, feeling panicked and cornered at the thought of burning Taehyung’s perfect skin again. How could he do this in good conscience? It was wrong, it was selfish, it was-

 

Soft. Taehyung’s skin was soft as the Spring brought his wrist to Jungkook’s limp hand. It was soft, and not at all hot.

 

Jungkook thought he might pass out.

 

His roommate held his wrist to Jungkook’s palm as the minutes ticked by, both standing rigid with complete shock. Anticipation nearly suffocated them as they waited for the fluke to end, for the pain to return, but there was only soft skin, only the warmth of a living thing.

 

“J-Jungkook,” Taehyung said, his voice barely a whisper, as if speaking too loudly would bring the pain scrambling back. “What the actual fuck is happening right now?”

 

Jungkook couldn’t answer. He felt numb as he waited for the dream to end, wondering if Taehyung would be the one to wake him again, like the last dream he had of touching Taehyung freely. 

 

With an inhale, Taehyung gently turned his wrist in Jungkook’s loose hold, bringing his palm to meet the other. It was slow, almost painfully slow when Taehyung intertwined each of their fingers, sliding them through each slot. Jungkook noticed they fit perfectly, almost moulded to hold one another. 

 

Taehyung’s eyes were still wide as he held their clasped fist together in front of him, the connection shooting flames through Jungkook, but flames that held no pain.

 

“Wake me up, Taehyung,” he said finally, his voice shaking with emotion. “This dream is too good. You can wake me up now.”

 

Taehyung snorted, his eyes glistening with liquid gold as he squeezed his hand where it held Jungkook’s. The vice grip felt weightless to Jungkook, his own pressure slowly tightening as he considered how much he didn’t want to wake up from this dream yet, how much he wanted to do with a Taehyung who he didn’t incinerate at every touch.

 

“You’re awake,” he said softly, kindness thick in his tone as he moved closer into the Winter’s space. “This is real. I don’t know how, or why, but it’s- it’s real.” 

 

Taehyung was smiling, but tears rolled down his cheeks, their golden cascade something Jungkook was tired of seeing. He was sick of the man he loved crying all the time, so sick of the shit they went through. Instinctually, he brought his free hand to the Spring’s face, only to stop with sudden force a breath away from his skin.

 

After a moment of hesitation, Taehyung closed the gap between them, nuzzling his warm cheek into Jungkook’s bare hand. 

 

He stood frozen, unable to move a muscle out of habitual fear. The sensation of Taehyung’s sordid skin against his own was beyond euphoric, threatening to bring him to his knees as their scents swam heavily between them. 

 

“Taehyung,” he said, his own voice wrought with tears, “why is this happening?”

 

Eyelids fluttering shut, Taehyung had no answer as he rubbed his teary cheek against Jungkook’s fingertips. The Winter moved with unease, his body still rigid, though the aroma surrounding him was quickly loosening the hold on his control.

 

“I don’t know.” The Spring brought his hand not gripping Jungkook’s for dear life to the Winter’s hand on his face, brushing his knuckles with no pain to be found. 

 

It was terrifying. Jungkook had seen nothing scarier in his lifetime than the implication of touching Taehyung without repercussion. He felt like he was willingly throwing himself into a flaming pit as his thumb twitched, catching a stray golden tear on the blonde’s cheek. 

 

They stared at each other, the world having faded away around them, as actuality sunk in. Jungkook felt caught between two forces stronger than the pull of the sun, his desire screaming at him to make his fantasies become reality, but his practicality telling him it was too good to be true. 

 

Wasn’t Taehyung too good to be true to begin with?

 

The path laid before him, one that allowed him to follow his heart with reckless abandon. It was exceedingly dangerous, full of unknowns and the possibilities of going miserably, but with Taehyung’s skin against his…

 

And who knew how much time they had? Who knew when it could come crashing down? What if he really did wake up to find this had been a dream, if Taehyung himself was a dream?

 

Taehyung made a small noise of surprise as Jungkook finally broke free from his trance, his motives catching up to him at a rapid pace. He all but dragged Taehyung under the awning, pushing his back to the tallest rail. The air was knocked from the Spring’s chest as Jungkook pressed against him, finding only the sweltering heat of their clothing present, and none of the angry fire that usually accompanied their contact. 

 

Desperation overtook him as he withdrew his hand from Taehyung’s tight grasp, bringing both palms to his cheeks. Still, there was no pain, only the pliable softness Jungkook had imagined hundreds of times. The smoothness was far beyond what he had ever dared to dream of as his thumbs moved in a small motion, adjusting to the addictive sensation of sparks without the discomfort. 

 

“This is a dream,” he repeated, bringing his head to meet Taehyung’s, the worry of their skin touching still ever present in his mind. “This isn’t real.”

 

Taehyung’s eyes were tiny half-moons from Jungkook’s perspective an inch away, his vision drowning in their mixed gold. 

 

“It’s real, Kookie, there’s no pain at all.” Gold disappeared for a moment as Taehyung closed his eyes, his lungs filling with what was likely Jungkook’s cinnamon scent. “You feel amazing, better than amazing. It’s not a normal touch, it’s like…”

 

Jungkook didn’t need him to finish. He knew what it felt like, as if galaxies were trembling just beneath the surface of Taehyung’s skin, crying at Jungkook to be released. When their skin collided, it felt like the merging of existences, enthralling in their perfect revelry. 

 

He had wanted this for so damn long, he thought, as he brought his lips to Taehyung’s without a second thought. Stars and color exploded in Jungkook’s vision at the contact, the sensation far beyond what he was capable of explaining. There was no thought present, only the heat of Taehyung’s limbs, the taste of vanilla heavy on his tongue. 

 

Taehyung released a muffled groan against his mouth, the vibration surging through Jungkook’s body with a feverish need. Remembering he could move his hands, Jungkook brought them to the Spring’s neck, relishing the racing of his pulse that lingered there.

 

Finally, finally, he had his lips on Taehyung’s, after months of wishing they could press against his. He was finally touching him, finally blending with him. Jungkook thought his heart might burst.

 

He whined as Taehyung gently pulled away, the Spring’s eyelids heavy with desire. Jungkook thought the swollen, reddened hue on Taehyung’s lips from the force of his own was possibly the hottest thing he’d ever seen. 

 

A tiny giggle escaped from Taehyung then, surprising the Winter as he broke from the heated moment. Giggles quickly turned to breathless laughter when Taehyung pressed his head into Jungkook’s neck, uncaring about the brush of skin. It had Jungkook shivering as Taehyung’s warm breath travelled down his shirt, though he found it near impossible not to crack his own smile at his roommate’s happiness.

 

When he pulled back, his cheeks were flushed, elatedness swimming in his eyes. “I love you, Jungkook,” Taehyung said with a brilliant smile, bringing his hands up to meet Jungkook's where they lay on his neck. 

 

If he had thought his heart was going to burst earlier, this was nothing in comparison. 

 

“I’ve loved you for a long time, I think, but I knew for sure when I saw your painting.” 

 

He hadn’t prepared for the possibility that Taehyung would admit to seeing the painting, unsure if he should lie about his presence there. It was huge for the Spring to be so honest, to hand over such a large piece of himself so freely. 

 

He also hadn’t prepared for Taehyung to confess his love for him. 

 

“The painting…” he said softly, brushing his thumbs over Taehyung’s jaw, “I didn’t know it then, but it was the moment our bond clicked. It was the first time I had ever seen color through the bond, through you. It was…” he paused, unable to describe something so incredible. “It was exactly how it feels to do this.”

 

Running a finger up Taehyung’s jawline, Jungkook met his lips again, less hesitant than before. Instead of need, there was only compassion in his kiss, only contentment in the way their bodies pressed together. Taehyung inhaled deeply, his hands curling into Jungkook’s jacket as their lips moved together in tender motions. It was a long while before they broke apart, both parties unwilling but needing to come up for air.

 

Jungkook loved him. He hadn’t needed their contact to prove it, but it reinforced it to an exponential degree. 

 

“I love you too, Tae.”

 

Taehyung was shining like the sun, his gaze the most brilliant of colors in Jungkook’s chromatic vision. He wouldn’t be surprised if Taehyung really was the sun at this point, the rays of his warmth soothing to his swirling cold, especially with the amused look in his eye.

 

“Does this mean we can be boyfriends now?” 

 

Jungkook laughed, pearly teeth on full display as he rubbed noses with Taehyung. 

 

“Yeah. I think- I think I’d like that.”


~

 

Carrying bags of groceries up five flights of stairs wasn’t Jungkook’s favorite activity, but he considered it a muscle exercise, so he did it anyway. He was a one trip kind of guy, though he was regretting that mantra more and more as he climbed each step.

 

Of course, his boyfriend had to make the list obnoxiously long for no real reason, but Jungkook wasn’t the one cooking usually, so he wasn’t complaining either. 

 

Plastic bags weighed down his arms as he shouldered past the entryway, smacking the boxes against the walls when he entered the empty room, the bathroom door closed. Why did they need six different boxes of cereal when Jungkook didn’t even eat cereal?

 

Shoving the boxes into random places in the pantry, Jungkook wondered when the hell they acquired so much food in the first place. There was little space left, most of it dominated by pasta, oatmeal and other things Taehyung never ate, and yet always seemed to buy. He unceremoniously shoved things around to make room, eager to finish his chore and find Taehyung so he could… well, he didn’t know what he’d do, but he knew he wanted to touch him.

 

After the revelation that they could finally touch a few days prior, they really hadn’t stopped touching… ever. Jungkook probably would’ve judged any other couple for anything comparable in clinginess, but none of them were making up for lost time like he and Taehyung were. 

 

There was still a bit of awkwardness between them, both unsure of how to launch into a full blown relationship that included physical contact so quickly. Sometimes, Taehyung kissed Jungkook while he was smiling and accidentally hit his teeth, making him smile even more. Other times, Jungkook would run his fingers through Taehyung’s hair, sometimes catching on a knot or two that lingered there, the Spring always smacking him in protest if he scraped his nails on his scalp. 

 

Waking up still filled them both with excitement and fear, wondering if it would finally be the day they awoke from the dream that allowed them to touch so freely, but so far, they had only woken up with Taehyung’s face usually buried comfortably in shirtless Jungkook’s neck. 

 

The sudden change was scary, but not unwelcome. Not unwelcome at all. In fact, it was utterly perfect to Jungkook, so much so that he was partially convinced it was still all too good to be true. 

 

“Oi, Taehyung,” he called loudly, “you gonna let me put this all away myself or what?”

 

Bending over to reach into the back of the pantry, he placed a useless box of mac-and-cheese far towards the rear, hoping it would be eaten in the next century. 

 

“You called?” a deep voice greeted him from the kitchen doorway after a few moments. 

 

Still shuffling boxes to make them fit correctly, Jungkook worked with his head stuffed in the pantry. “Yeah, could you help please? I feel like I’m playing Tetris.”

 

There was a snort, but Jungkook heard no effort to move from Taehyung. He wondered if the Spring found it funny watching him slave away.

 

“Can you please just-”

 

Freezing, Jungkook took in the image of Taehyung as he spun around, choking on the air in his lungs at his startling appearance.

 

Taehyung was wearing one of Jungkook’s tightest black sweaters, the thin material tucked into a pair of Taehyung’s own washed blue jeans, so taught against his legs that his curves were accentuated to an alarming degree. A belt sat snugly on his hips, the buckle adorned with a shiny gemstone, sparkling in a similar manner to Taehyung’s long earring. The sapphire stone on a silver chain between his collarbones seemed to dance with a playful light.

 

Charcoal was smeared along Taehyung’s eyelids, his cheekbones dusted with glitter and his lips shining with a subtle pink gloss. The curls of his hair were fluffed and aligned to perfection.

 

Jungkook was going to die right there in the kitchen.

 

“Are- are you going out?” he said, not even able to cringe at the sound of his choked voice. If Taehyung was going out looking like that, why the hell hadn’t he been invited?

 

Taehyung twisted a finger in his hair, his brow furrowing as he looked contemplative. “Mmm.. don’t think so, why?”

 

Lips parted, Jungkook struggled to speak. Taehyung looked unbelievably hot and sounded even hotter, so much so that he was already sweating. 

 

He wanted to devour him.

 

“Because, you look… good,” Jungkook said lamely. “Why are you so dressed up?”

 

There was a noncommittal shrug from Taehyung, his gaze avoidant as Jungkook took him in with a piercing stare. Vanilla laced with honey flitted through the air as his cheeks flushed. 

 

It was funny that there had been a time when Jungkook had found the same Springborne in that very kitchen, picking up ceramic shards and infuriating him with his presence. 

 

Now, there was no one Jungkook wanted to see more. 

 

Tilting his head, the Winter had an inkling of what was going on, but on top of everything else lately, it seemed way too good to be true.

 

Still, having the blonde in front of him looking downright fuckable had the heat in his gut motivating him to find out. 

 

Jungkook crossed the space between them quickly, gently turning the Spring’s face towards him when they were within arms reach. He was still getting used to how incredible it felt to have his hands on Taehyung so freely, the heat flaring beneath his fingertips.

 

He was still getting used to how easily Taehyung seemed to bend to him when things were like this, how trusting he was of Jungkook’s will to overtake him.

 

“Taehyung… did you dress up for me?”

 

Jungkook expected a laugh, or maybe a shove at his words, but Taehyung only stared away from him, the eyeshadow smeared on his lids sparkling in the fluorescent light. 

 

“Like what you see?” the Spring asked, the low tenor of his voice quivering almost unnoticeably, though Jungkook picked up on it instantly.

 

A dull roar grew inside Jungkook’s mind at the visual before him, desire slowly spreading through his veins. Taehyung had actually went out of his way to dress up for him, to put on makeup, to basically serve himself on a platter.

 

Jungkook swallowed dryly. His boyfriend was unbelievable. 

 

“Like what I see?” Jungkook repeated, moving his hands to Taehyung’s neck, his nails leaving small scrapes in their wake. He ran his fingers down the Spring’s chest, satisfied with the way Taehyung responded to him, how he shivered beneath even the lightest touch. “Like is an understatement.”

 

The need in Taehyung’s golden eyes when they finally met Jungkook’s had him crashing their lips together, an urgency behind their actions that hadn’t existed there before. Jungkook felt the overwhelming need to consume Taehyung where he stood, especially after having put special care into looking perfect for him. 

 

Taehyung easily parted his lips for him, allowing Jungkook to explore the cavern with his tongue. The sweet taste was divine, honey and vanilla so satisfying that Jungkook felt close to letting his knees buckle. His hands found Taehyung’s hips, pressing him to the wall as arms snaked around his neck. 

 

It was sweltering as the temperature grew rapidly between them, and Jungkook had the nagging feeling that he wasn’t touching enough of Taehyung, that there was still plenty of territory to explore. Taehyung slowly became more aggressive in his tongue clashes, his mouth pressing to Jungkook’s with craving. 

 

The Winter lowered himself, wrapping an arm around Taehyung’s leg to pull it around him before grabbing the other, picking up Taehyung by his ass to press him to the wall. Taehyung responded in perfect sync, his limbs wrapping around Jungkook’s waist to hold himself as he smiled into their kiss.

 

“Always knew you had a muscle kink,” the blonde said, a breathless giggle in his chest.

 

Jungkook returned the smile with bright teeth and burning cheeks, his head pressed to Taehyung’s. “Okay, you caught me. Would you prefer I drop you?”

 

Taehyung shook his head, bringing his lips to kiss Jungkook’s again. When he pulled away to unleash a hot breath on Jungkook’s ear, he was surprised he didn’t collapse just at the feeling alone.

 

“No, but there are other things I’d like you to do to me.”

 

A violent shiver rolled through Jungkook at his seductive tone, nearly drowning him with overpowering desire. 

 

He lifted Taehyung from the wall, feeling his muscles strain as the Spring’s weight leaned into him. Taehyung yelped at the sudden loss of gravity, clinging tightly to Jungkook’s neck as he was carried to the Winter’s side of the room, giggling low in his throat. 

 

Jungkook laid Taehyung onto his navy pillows with a huff, quickly resuming their makeout at a new angle with a renewed fervor. Hands gripped at the hem of his t-shirt, motioning upwards. 

 

“Get this shit off,” Taehyung whined when they came up for air, tugging at Jungkook’s top. “I’m so sick of clothes. Need to feel you.”

 

Fire burned in Jungkook’s abdomen as he undressed himself, pulling his shirt off quickly and tossing it to the side. 

 

“You too,” Jungkook said with a smirk, lifting the fabric of Taehyung’s black sweater over his head with an agonizing gentleness. His tanned skin was an expansive plane that Jungkook was all too eager to explore, longing to brush his fingers over every single inch.

 

When he moved to climb back on the bed, the Spring stopped him with a hand to his chest that travelled to the button of his dark jeans. Their eyes met, the colored flares having a dialogue all their own while Taehyung licked his lips, his hand traveling ever lower.

 

Jungkook groaned with a volume that surprised even him when Taehyung’s delicate fingers traced the outline of his hardness, sending shockwaves of heat through him. If he had thought he was turned on before, it was nothing compared to now. 

 

“Take them off, Kookie,” Taehyung said, his smooth exterior beginning to crack under the desperate need they shared. “We can touch now, so…” 

 

But instead of discarding his own pants, Jungkook lowered himself to Taehyung’s chest, its rise and fall increasing in speed by the second. He kissed him first, passionately brushing their mouths together before traveling inch by inch down the Spring’s angled jawline. There wasn’t a place on Taehyung that he didn’t want to feel or taste, as if his whole existence had been crafted to absorb the one against him.

 

Taehyung moaned quietly when Jungkook’s careful kisses became a trail of bites down his neck, moving with a deliberately slow pace onto his chest. He sucked greedily at the skin, leaving blooming marks and relishing the way Taehyung tasted, as if the Spring had dunked himself in a honey vanilla bath beforehand. 

 

When Jungkook had finally reached the hem of Taehyung’s pants, he sunk even lower, letting his warm breath seep into the material of Taehyung’s jeans constricting his growing bulge. The Spring arched his back, a hand gripping the sheets as another low moan left him. 

 

“This is okay, right?” Jungkook asked kindly as his fingers hesitated on Taehyung’s waistband, wanting to know for certain that it was okay to proceed.

 

At Taehyung’s nod, Jungkook was quickly disassembling the belt from his waist, feeling molten as the button beneath his fingers came undone. His boyfriend lifted his legs as Jungkook tugged the material off, stunning the Winter at what was revealed. 

 

A flowery pattern of dark blue lace was obscuring Taehyung’s hardness, the briefs not too over the top but delicate and pretty where they clung to his hips. Jungkook felt his mouth water at the semi-transparent material, leaving nothing to the imagination, especially with the very tip of Taehyung’s pink cock peeking out of the top. Taehyung had clearly put a lot of thought into his appearance, even choosing Jungkook’s favorite color.  

 

He wondered when he got lucky enough to have someone who knew him so well by his side.

 

“God, Tae.” All prior hesitation was abandoned as Jungkook absorbed the sight of his boyfriend sprawled on his bed, face crimson and chest heaving. His perfectly sculpted hips appeared angelic with the addition of the lingerie, accentuating his soft curves. 

 

Feeling like he was still living a dream, he gripped Taehyung tightly by the waist, mouthing along the outline of his cock as the blonde’s hands flew to Jungkook’s dark mess of hair. 

 

Taehyung lifted his hips with a sharp whine when the Winter tasted him, letting his tongue flitter over the tip of his leaking member. “Stop being a fucking tease.”

 

Jungkook smiled where his mouth hovered against the pretty underwear. Watching Taehyung come undone beneath him might have been his new favorite thing. 

 

“How am I the tease,” he asked, voice taught with want and amusement, “when you show up wearing things like this?” 

 

Jungkook snapped the band of Taehyung’s briefs against his skin, slipping his hands beneath him to cup his ass when the Spring lifted his hips. He squeezed his rear tightly, kneading the flesh in a circular motion while he dragged his tongue down Taehyung’s covered length. 

 

“K-kook, please,” Taehyung whined, becoming more wrecked by the second as he arched into Jungkook’s grip. 

 

“Please what?” the Winter asked thickly, feeling heat and affection cloud his mind with only raw desire. “Tell me what you want, baby. I’ll help you, you just need to tell me.”

 

Taehyung’s heavy lidded gaze flecked with gold had Jungkook almost taking him right there, though he held back in anticipation of dragging it out as long as he possibly could. 

 

“Touch me, Jungkook,” his boyfriend begged as the Winter ran his nails over the navy material again. “I need you to touch me, please Kookie.”

 

A smirk appeared on Jungkook’s face as Taehyung’s pleading reached his ears. He had known Taehyung became pliable for him under his touch, but this was a new level of surrender. 

 

He did as he was asked, gently sliding down the underwear with utmost carefulness. As Taehyung’s cock sprang free, the tip reddened and angry where it waited untouched, Jungkook felt his own twitch tightly in his pants. 

 

Taehyung was perfect, he thought repeatedly as he reached for his boyfriend’s erect member, feeling sparks under his fingertips at the new contact. The way he looked, the way he sounded, the way he loved with every part of him, it was all blindingly flawless to Jungkook. 

 

The way Taehyung moaned brokenly when Jungkook brought his mouth to the tip was heavenly, his tongue swirling around the mix of precum with slow, circular motions. Taehyung’s dainty fingers adorned with thin, silver rings threaded through Jungkook’s fluffy mess of hair, tugging at it forcefully when Jungkook dipped lower, taking in all of him. 

 

The prickles of pain from the rough touch had Jungkook groaning deep in his throat, the vibrations making Taehyung squirm beneath him.

 

It had been a long while since Jungkook had given head, and he admittedly wasn’t the greatest at it, but Taehyung’s reactions were making him feel just a little proud. 

 

“Oh my god.” Taehyung ground his hips into Jungkook’s mouth in a repetitive motion, causing him to choke just a little, though he barely even noticed. Taehyung using him for pleasure had fire splitting him in two, his own hand reaching down to stroke his own weeping cock through his pants.

 

When he felt a strong tremor rock through Taehyung, Jungkook pulled away immediately, a trail of saliva clinging to his lips. Taehyung nearly cried at the loss, a choked sound coming from his heaving lungs. 

 

“Why?!” he breathed, his expression pained, “I was so close!” When the blonde reached to stroke himself off, Jungkook knocked his hand away, leaving his cock trembling in the air. 

 

Eyes locked to the Spring’s expression while he protested, he dragged a finger to Taehyung’s opening, the pink hole pretty and inviting as he padded his thumb against it. “Are you saying you want to stop?”

 

The Spring inhaled sharply, a keen sound escaping from him as his hips moved by their own accord. 

 

“N-no,” he stuttered, biting at his lip while Jungkook tickled him with light touches. 

 

He stood briefly, rifling through his nightstand drawer for a small bottle of clear liquid. Taehyung watched him with a hungry gaze as a liberal amount of lube dripped down his fingers, warming it between them before bringing it to Taehyung’s hole. 

 

Taehyung jolted at Jungkook’s sudden pressure, the Winter’s wet fingers slowly circling his tight opening. He rubbed a coaxing hand on the Spring’s abdomen, massaging his hips in a comforting motion. 

 

When Taehyung reached for him, a worried look on his face, Jungkook wondered if it was possible to drown in fondness for someone else.

 

“Relax,” he crooned. Climbing up to bring his lips to Taehyung’s, he gradually inched his finger in with care, feeling tightness clench around him. “Gonna make you feel good, just focus on relaxing.”

 

Taehyung’s body was rigid for a few moments, adjusting to the sensation as Jungkook gently dragged out and in. Surprisingly, his boyfriend grew accustomed to it rather quickly, undoing the tension in his muscles as Jungkook worked to open him up with easy strokes. 

 

“M-more.” Jungkook obliged, and it wasn’t long before Taehyung was grinding in a return of force, riding Jungkook’s fingers as he inserted a second, quickly followed by a third. 

 

“Doing so good for me, baby.” Nails dug into his back as Jungkook thrust his digits in and out of Taehyung’s tight hole, the wet sounds mixing with the moans tumbling from the Spring’s mouth at an increasing rate. Spreading his fingers apart in a scissor motion, Jungkook widened Taehyung even further, his curved fingertips eventually finding purchase on a bundle of nerves. 

 

Taehyung’s eyes rolled back, his back arching off the bed. “Fuck, Jungkook”, he cried, holding onto the Winter as he took him with ease, “right there, its-”

 

Taehyung was ethereal, his cheekbones glittering in the light as he shook. As desperate as he was to see Taehyung’s orgasm take him, Jungkook withdrew once more, leaving Taehyung clenching around air. The Spring groaned low, brow furrowed as he struggled to come down from his high. 

 

“Need you, Kookie,” he panted, his pout tugging on Jungkook’s heartstrings and lust all at once.

 

“Not yet, Tae,” he soothed, rubbing a reassuring hand over his stomach. “Almost there.”

 

Taehyung’s hardness was positively dripping when Jungkook climbed off of him, quickly ridding himself of his own jeans and undergarments. He sucked in a breath when the cool air nipped at his own cock, the length finally springing free from where it had been constricted for so long.

 

His boyfriend was looking at him with raw yearning as Jungkook ran his lubed fingers along his length, moaning loudly after not having been touched yet. Knowing there were golden eyes on him had him twitching in his hold, thriving at the unwavering attention he was given. Taehyung looked completely and utterly fucked out, desperation on the lines of his face as he reached for his own cock.

 

Jungkook caught his hand before it made contact. “Not yet. Be patient.” It was ridiculously cute when Taehyung pouted, his impatience obvious. 

 

When he bent down to dig through his drawer for a condom, Jungkook felt a hesitant hand on his bicep. 

 

“Uh.. Jungkook,” Taehyung said sheepishly, face flushed with a pretty pink, “I’m- I’m clean, if you don’t want to. I mean, it’s up to you of course, I’m okay with either, but… since we’re bonded already and all...”

 

Jungkook’s stomach flipped at Taehyung’s implication, feeling electrocuted by the thought of going skin to skin. It seemed strangely ironic that their first time play out this way, considering all the headache they had spent with a barrier between them. 

 

Abandoning his search, Jungkook climbed over Taehyung to bring their lips together, soaking up as much bare skin between them as he could. Every brush of contact was a tiny inferno, sparking between them like a live wire. 

 

He lined himself up with Taehyung’s hole, anticipation thrumming through his veins. Taehyung’s needy expression only had eyes for Jungkook, his breathing labored.

 

With the most patient of motions, Jungkook slowly pressed forward, nearly choking as the tip made contact with Taehyung’s warmth. Taehyung sucked in a sharp breath, his hands rushing for Jungkook’s arms as he was stretched inch by inch. 

 

When the space between their bodies became seamless, the Winter was certain Taehyung had been created with Jungkook in mind. 

 

There was no way it was normal, Jungkook found himself thinking as their moans tangled together. It wasn’t a normal connection between them, not with the otherworldly pleasure where Taehyung clenched around his length. Falling forward with his body pressing to Taehyung’s, he tried to catch his breath, almost seeing stars. 

 

“You- you okay?” he asked, brushing Taehyung’s sweaty, golden fringe from his eyes. He kissed his forehead with tenderness, hoping to relieve some of his discomfort. Taehyung shuddered when Jungkook shifted, his hands pressing to Jungkook’s chest, as if accustomed to grabbing his shirt there. 

 

“Go ahead,” the blonde said breathlessly, his voice quivering with desperation. “Move, love”. 

 

It was all the sign Jungkook needed to pull back, sliding in at an unhurried pace. The drag of Taehyung’s insides against him knocked the air from his lungs, the pleasure unfathomable. 

 

“Holy shit, Taehyung,” Jungkook breathed, his pace increasing only after his boyfriend groaned loudly into his neck. The sweat of their bodies stuck to their skin, heightening the sweltering heat that already existed. 

 

“Fuck,” Taehyung cried, his nails dragging down the Winter’s back. Their path only provoked him to thrust faster, biting his lip when Taehyung wrapped his legs around his waist, giving him access to a deeper angle. 

 

There was no denying his bond was dragging him under while Jungkook pounded into Taehyung, the feelings far beyond what he had ever experienced before, even in past sexual encounters. It was euphoric being joined so closely to him, no space left to be found between them. 

 

“Please,” Taehyung said between moans, holding Jungkook to him like an anchor while he writhed in pleasure. “I-I can’t fight it, please.”

 

There weren’t words for Jungkook to ask what Taehyung meant as he faded, tumbling beneath the surface of whatever expanse Taehyung had opened up to him. He felt as though he were drowning and flying simultaneously, swimming through the feelings that he had amassed for the Spring. 

 

A whole universe was accessible to Jungkook through Taehyung, through the feelings of ecstasy rolling between them. Though there was stardust in his eyes, he thought he may have been hovering at Taehyung’s neck, the aroma nearly suffocating him as vanilla and honey filled his lungs. He was blinded, driven only by the unparalleled need to make Taehyung his. 

 

Jungkook blinked, his view of Taehyung flickering in and out like a cracked screen. One moment, he saw an endless stretch of darkness, the surrounding galaxies sparkling with colors that didn’t have names, and in another moment, he was staring down at a Taehyung that had every color of the stars in his eyes. 

 

“Kookie,” Taehyung hiccuped, greedily taking every inch of Jungkook beneath him. “It feels too good, too much.” 

 

He thought Taehyung might have been speaking, but Jungkook felt afraid to communicate, fearing the stardust slowly rising him would burst from his veins. Everything was a mix of Taehyung and the power he possessed, consumed with loving Taehyung, fucking Taehyung, breathing Taehyung. 

 

“I’m gonna-“ the blonde choked, holding onto Jungkook’s cheeks with urgency, his eyes leaking with tears. “Kook, need you,” Taehyung whined, pulling Jungkook’s face to collide with his lips. 

 

Fireworks exploded in Jungkook’s heart, ripping him from where he had been floating outside his own consciousness and  slamming him back to reality as their mouths met. As the stardust dwindled throughout his body, molten pleasure took its place, heightening every sensation as he fucked into Taehyung with urgency. 

 

Instinctually, he reached for the blonde’s leaking cock, stroking it quickly in pursuit of his partner’s pleasure. Taehyung’s colorful eyes snapped to his, his mouth parting in silent rapture as a tremor rocked him, his lewd moan echoing in Jungkook’s mind. 

 

His boyfriend arched off the bed, squeezing around Jungkook’s length as his muscles tensed and released. Hot, white streaks left Taehyung then, coating the space between them with a delicate ribbon of come. 

 

Groaning loudly at the sight of Taehyung unraveling for him, Jungkook felt the heat in him uncoil with a sudden force, knocking the air from his lungs. With a few final thrusts, he came inside the Spring, the strength of his orgasm nearly splitting him in two. 

 

Collapsing onto his boyfriend with a huff, Jungkook curled his arms around the Spring's head, shaking with adrenaline. 

 

“Tae-taehyung,” he sputtered, gasping for air. Thoughts of stars swam in the forefront of his mind, eclipsing one another like the shutter of a camera. The Spring brought his arms to Jungkook’s hair, running his fingers through his damp strands. 

 

“It’s okay baby, I’m here. You’re here, Jungkook.” Taehyung’s heart was racing in his chest, his hands shaking from more than just his release. 

 

Jungkook’s ideas of reality were mixing, unsure of his surroundings but still aware of his presence in his room. He felt the stickiness between himself and Taehyung, the heat rolling off his skin and the desire slowly leaving his veins. 

 

A morbid fear swept over him as he tried to recall the last few moments, instead finding only images of stars in an ocean of euphoria. He had nearly lost himself, had nearly tumbled over the edge into a bottomless unknown. 

 

“You give too much of yourself too easily,” Taehyung said, overwhelming compassion in his trembling voice as he lovingly stroked the Winter’s hair. “You tried to tap into the power between us. I had a hell of a time keeping it from you.” 

 

Jungkook shook against Taehyung, feeling utterly spent after his mind-shattering orgasm and his apparent attempt to leech power from the Spring. The limitless expanse had called to him, had barely given him a choice in bending to it. It thrilled and terrified him.

 

Taehyung’s hand was hot where it rubbed soothing circles into his damp back. “You were so good, love. I’m sorry if it scared you,” he murmured, nuzzling his face along Jungkook’s ear. “I didn’t think it was possible to- to connect like that, but I’ve never been bonded before…” 

 

Breathing Taehyung’s scent in deeply, Jungkook worked to calm himself as the Spring continued to utter words of small comfort. The world he knew seemed to slowly build itself back up in his mind, allowing him to recall how perfect Taehyung had been before he had lost himself. 

 

“That was-“ he breathed, struggling to speak as language gradually returned to him. He stared down at Taehyung with wide eyes, his gaze flicking across all of his immaculate features as if he were seeing the Spring for the first time. “You were- perfect, you were-“

 

A slow, tender kiss sparked on his raw lips, its prior urgency having been replaced with unending patience. 

 

“Shh, it’s alright. We have plenty of time to talk later,” Taehyung said softly, rubbing noses with Jungkook. Even in his hazy confusion, Jungkook’s heart flooded with fondness. “Let’s get cleaned up and cuddle, okay? Someone owes me big time for making such a mess.” 

 

A puff of air left Jungkook’s lungs as he snorted, his awareness of the stickiness between them growing by the second. As he gently pulled out of Taehyung, the Spring groaned lowly, the oversensitivity sparking through them both. 

 

“S-stay,” Jungkook said weakly, eventually finding it in him to stand. His knees nearly took him down as they struggled to remember how to hold his weight. No way a shower was happening tonight.

 

He grabbed a moistened towel from the bathroom, letting warm water splash onto it before shakily making his way back to Taehyung. 

 

Jungkook really had made a mess of him. Taehyung’s golden hair was wild, splayed around him against the pillow like a halo, his lips still swollen and puffy after their abuse. 

 

Dragging the cloth across Taehyung’s heated skin, he admired the way goosebumps erupted across the smooth plane, never missing even the smallest reactions from the Spring. 

 

“Sorry,” Jungkook said quietly after having cleaned him to the best of his ability. “Everything was so good, I-I just got pulled under somehow.” 

 

Because it was impossible for him not to be cute, Taehyung made grabby hands toward Jungkook, his face tired and flushed. Jungkook’s heart swelled as he climbed back into bed, relishing the way the sheets felt cool against his prickling skin. 

 

“There’s going to be a learning curve,” Taehyung mumbled, curling himself into Jungkook’s bare chest as an arm wrapped around him. “I don’t know much about bonding, but ours seems a little...unorthodox compared to what I’ve heard before.”

 

Jungkook brought his nose to run through Taehyung’s hair, feeling lightheaded as the scents of sweat, vanilla and his own cinnamon leapt out from among the strands. “Is there anything about us that isn’t unorthodox?” he said, chuckling weakly. 

 

It warmed him to feel Taehyung giggling against him, always shifting ever closer, even when there was no space left to cross. “No, but it would be boring otherwise, wouldn’t it?” 

 

Taehyung’s eyes were sparkling like fiery gemstones when he gazed up at Jungkook, the love passing between them as easily as the air they shared. His brilliant, boxy smile nearly glowed in the dim lighting, threatening to steal Jungkook’s breath for the hundredth time that night. 

 

Tugging the Spring tighter to him, he thought of the galaxies that Taehyung had made available to him, the precipice that he had nearly fallen from. It was the most frightening and enticing thing he had encountered, aside from Taehyung himself. 

 

Still, Jungkook knew he was a sucker for anything and everything revolving around the Springborne he was bonded to. Call him simple, but the unwavering compassion they seemed to willingly share was enough motivation for him to dance with the danger of losing himself, if it meant he could join with Taehyung in such a close fashion. 

 

With a small smile, he nuzzled Taehyung’s hair, hearing Jimin’s words clatter around in his brain about how whipped he was. Yeah, he was whipped for Taehyung, but it was still the best accidental decision he had ever made to bond with him, and the best intentional decision to fall in love with him. He didn’t regret either for a second.

 

The Spring giggled at his nuzzling, the sound filling him with endearment. 

 

Jungkook wouldn’t be surprised if Taehyung was the death of him someday. Honestly, he’d go down willingly. 


~

 

“Maybe a little to the left.” 

 

Arm straining, Jungkook shifted the small, metal hook in his hand an inch to the side. The glass orb attached by a shimmering thread swung gently from the movement, clanking against the other baubles already fastened to the ceiling above the window. 

 

“That’s probably fine,” Taehyung said, peering up at Jungkook at where he stood on a step stool. 

 

Taking the mallet that was handed to him, Jungkook hammered the hook through the white ceiling, fastening it tightly beside the three others that had just been given similar treatment. 

 

As the Winter climbed down from his perch, Taehyung stood back to admire the handiwork, a hand to his chin in thoughtfulness. The colored glass cast splashes of color onto his tanned skin as the sun filtered through the wall of windows in their dorm.  

 

According to Taehyung, the glass had been handcrafted and blown by his grandfather, each bauble it’s own mixed swirl of brilliant color. The Spring simply hadn’t found the right time or place to hang them, until Jungkook came along. After spotting them in one of Taehyung’s many boxes under his bed, the Winter had suggested they hang them from the ceiling so the sunny window light could illuminate them.

 

“Look good?” 

 

Taehyung plopped onto his bed, throwing his feet up to take in the blown glass at a new angle. “Definitely good, great even.” He tapped Jungkook with his toes, a smile on his face. “Thanks, baby.”

 

Jungkook gave him a small smile, affectionately ruffling his orderly blonde locks into a disarray. There was a noticeable amount of heat trapped beneath Taehyung’s thick layers of hair, escaping as Jungkook ran his fingers through it. 

 

“Are you hot?” he inquired, enjoying the way Taehyung purred as he massaged his scalp. It was unusual for Taehyung to be too warm, especially with Jungkook around to balance the temperature. 

 

“Mm.. a little?” Taehyung said distractedly, tilting his head to the side. “Just warm right now.” 

 

The Spring reached from his bed for his sketchbook, grabbing his messy bag of pastels along with it. He beckoned for Jungkook to sit, tugging the Winter onto the bedspread to put his back against the wall. With a small shove, he had Jungkook propping his knees up for him to lean against, a small bag of his favorite chocolate covered pretzels by his side.

 

“Is this all I’m good for?” Jungkook asked, feeling fond as Taehyung flipped to a fresh page in his sketchbook. “Chores and being a living body pillow?” 

 

Taehyung’s eyes were sparkling with mischief when he glanced at Jungkook, glowing as much as the smile on his face, a red pastel in hand. He popped a chocolate pretzel into his mouth with sass. “A damn good body pillow, cooling built in and everything.” 

 

Jungkook snorted as he tugged on Taehyung’s strands, resuming his typical habit of fluffing his hair. “Glad to be of service.” 

 

They sat in comfortable silence for awhile, Jungkook scrolling through his phone absentmindedly while Taehyung worked to capture the image of his newly hung blown glass, his occasional munching the only sound in the room. 

 

He loved moments like this, where he and Taehyung seemed to exist in their own, quiet universe, apart from the world but together still. It was one of the many ways Jungkook had given up a piece of himself, displaying his vulnerability in his lack of conversation. 

 

Comfortable silence wasn’t something Jungkook experienced with anyone but Taehyung, though he was grateful for the strides he had made with his other friendships in the last half a year. Jimin in particular had pulled Jungkook from his shell more times than he could count, whether by dragging him out of the dorm to socialize or encouraging him to be himself when interacting with others. 

 

The Summer’s humor bounced off his own with ease, always relieving some of the stress on Jungkook’s shoulders. He doubted Jimin even knew how much his steadfast presence supported him, especially when it came to figuring out the jigsaw puzzle that was Kim Taehyung.

 

“Have you talked to Jimin at all?” Jungkook asked, missing the presence of his pink-haired friend. He was aware Jimin had been away with Yoongi visiting the Winterborne’s mother recently, apparently in a place that had bad cell service, so he hadn’t bothered sending any messages his way.

 

His cheeks flushed when he considered how Jimin might react when he found out he and Taehyung could touch, and what they had done with that development. He’d probably never hear the fucking end of it, actually. 

 

Taehyung’s pastel paused mid-stroke, the curve of the glass bauble slowly taking shape on the page. Jungkook marveled briefly at his ability to always get proportions and contours so accurate in such a short amount of time.

 

“No, they’re basically off the grid for a few more days,” Taehyung said, resuming his sketching as he glanced up at the window repeatedly. 

 

Being off the grid made Jungkook stressed just thinking about it, but he supposed Jimin and Yoongi deserved their alone time. It might’ve even been nice to do the same with Taehyung sometime, taking on the world and leaving everything else behind for awhile. 

 

“Ugh…” Taehyung groaned, knocking his head back into Jungkook’s knees. “Why am I so damn shaky lately?” He glared down at his sketchbook, rubbing at what he had drawn.

 

Curious as to what he meant, Jungkook leaned forward to peer over his shoulder at the book. It indeed appeared as though Taehyung was shaking while sketching, maybe in a car or on a train, some of his more precise lines just a little askew or jagged. 

 

He watched as his boyfriend traded his light blue pastel for a soft violet, bringing it to the creamy paper. Jungkook stared at his hand, the ringed fingers glinting in the light as they softly shook. It was strange, as Taehyung had one of the steadiest strokes he had seen out of any artist. 

 

“You’re shaking,” he pointed out, gently reaching to run a comforting thumb over Taehyung’s wrist. The blonde paused his sketch again, his brows unfurrowing when he glanced softly at the contact between them. Jungkook ran a soothing hand up his arm to his shoulder, leaving a quick massage at the tense muscle. Taehyung’s skin was as sweltering as always.

 

“You alright, Tae?” he asked as he observed the Spring’s hand still shake in his grasp. Of course, Jungkook knew a degree of shakiness was normal in anyone, especially in artists who were constantly straining their arms and wrists, but he always was a little extra attentive when it came to Taehyung. 

 

Taehyung huffed a laugh, bringing his other hand up to gently caress Jungkook’s. “You worry too much. I probably just need some coffee, I haven’t had caffeine in like 8 hours, who even am I?”

 

Smiling gently, Jungkook gave him a final squeeze before wiggling away, leaving Taehyung to sit by himself on the bed. 

 

“I’ve been thinking I need something mocha all day,” he said, stopping beside the bed to squeeze Taehyung’s knee. It was still a little crazy thinking the Spring was his boyfriend whenever he looked at him, and how lucky he was to have Taehyung’s golden eyes on him all the time. “How about I bring us back some drinks from the shop? I could use a stretch anyway, so out of shape with no dance class lately.”

 

Taehyung shot him a sly smile while he readied himself. “I knew I bonded with you for a reason. First you hang stuff up for me, then you offer to do a coffee run? I should be paying you more.”

 

Jungkook snorted as he slipped on his boots, feeling every cell in his body radiate with contentment. Loving Taehyung was so stupidly easy sometimes. 

 

After slipping on his jacket, he approached him one more time before leaving, brushing a kiss into his hair. 

 

“There are even better ways of paying me,” he said playfully, holding back his laughter when Taehyung’s eyebrows shot up. 

 

“Oh, really?” Taehyung said with a smirk, his fingertips running over Jungkook’s thigh. “Like.. how?”

 

Quickly reaching around him, Jungkook nabbed the bag of pretzels, cackling maniacally as he stuffed it into his pocket and rushed for the door.

 

“Pretzels is a good start,” he said at the handle, popping one into his mouth as he observed Taehyung’s shocked face. His gaping look and reddened cheeks were downright priceless. 

 

He was so painfully cute that Jungkook thought it hurt.

 

As he exited, a muffled “Don’t let me see your face here ever again, Jeon!” rang from behind him. Jungkook was still giggling even as he hit the last flight of stairs. 

 

~

 

“C’mon, lazy bum, weren’t we going shopping today?”

 

It was already noon and Jungkook was ready to go, his plans with Taehyung being shopping for art supplies that day. The new semester was only a week away and they were both running low on various items, and Jungkook was not a fan of waiting until the last minute. With a few overlapping classes coming up (to Jungkook’s delight), it made sense to go together. 

 

Jungkook also just liked going anywhere with Taehyung, but that was of minor importance.

 

His boyfriend was often a somewhat late sleeper, but rarely stayed in bed beyond ten in the morning. They hadn’t been up late the previous night, so Jungkook found it a little odd that Taehyung was so lethargic, but it happened to everyone now and again. He himself had been guilty of sleeping in more times than he could count. 

 

A mess of blonde hair poked out from under the covers, revealing a pouty Taehyung, his eyes tightly shut. Considering his sleepy state, Jungkook knew he had his work cut out for him. It had been hard enough getting Taehyung to loosen his searing vice grip on him earlier that morning. 

 

“Tae,” he crooned softly, stroking the Spring’s soft cheek, “it’s time to get up, baby. We should go, you need food.”

 

Taehyung scrunched his nose, bringing his blanket even higher up his face. Sighing, Jungkook brushed his knuckles over his forehead. 

 

“Don’t make me put ice cubes under your blanket again, please,” he said with a snort, recalling the time Taehyung had nearly missed his midterm after sleeping like the dead. Jungkook had only been able to wake him by nearly dumping half of the arctic onto him.

 

He paused his hand against Taehyung’s head, noticing an extra flare or two beneath his skin. Jungkook was well aware that he was an overworrier, but still... Taehyung’s skin seemed quite warm. He chalked it up to the Spring being stuck under so many blankets.

 

There was a strange scent in the air, the tiniest tinge of fresh rain on pavement. It confused the hell out of Jungkook, who was a few feet from windows that showed it was a crisp winter day with no rain in sight. He strolled around the room, checking the bathroom and kitchen for weird smells, even looking under cabinets for leaky pipes, but the smell had dissipated after a time. 

 

Returning to Taehyung, he caught a whiff of the perplexing scent again. It only seemed to be strongest near his bed, strongest near… Taehyung. 

 

Furrowing his brow, Jungkook stared down at his boyfriend, wondering if he was losing it. He laid his palm against Taehyung’s forehead again properly, feeling a bit worried when some extra heat lingered there. Bringing his head down to his neck after peeling his blanket back just a hair, he inhaled deeply at the source of the Spring’s scent. 

 

The usual vanilla was there, mostly dominated by lavender and, to Jungkook’s satisfaction, quite a bit of his own cinnamon. It had seemed after having sex, their scents had mixed noticably, at least to the two of them. It made Jungkook feel fuzzy inside, but he wouldn’t be admitting that to anyone anytime soon.

 

Mixed with the smells he had come to love was something new, something… odd. It was out of place, the scent of rain uncharacteristic of Taehyung. Even at his worst, the metallic citrus scent he emanated when upset still fit him, in a way. It was still a representative of him, just not of his positive emotions.

 

The invading scent worried Jungkook far more than the extra heat on Taehyung’s skin, its presence foreign and unsettling. It made Jungkook feel like something was wrong simply out of instinct.

 

“Are you feeling okay?” he asked, brushing Taehyung’s hair away from his face. He was burning up, though Jungkook really wasn’t sure if that was just the reaction between them, or if Taehyung really was hotter than usual. There was a bit of dampness to his fringe, worsening at the back of his neck where Jungkook checked. 

 

Peeling back the layers of blankets, Jungkook attempted to give Taehyung some air. The heat was easily explainable to the average person by the ridiculous amount of insulation Taehyung preferred, but he had never sweat under them before. 

 

A violent shiver wracked through Taehyung at the loss of his comforter, curling his legs up close to him. Guilt threaded through Jungkook for exposing him to the air.

 

“Baby, talk to me,” he said, attempting to rouse him again, his anxiety prickling under his skin. 

 

“Don’t feel good, Kookie,” he whined with eyes closed, pulling the blankets up to hug his shoulders again. “Too cold.”

 

Cocking his head to the side, Jungkook felt his worries heighten. Taehyung rarely got cold, and there was no way he should’ve been anything less than sweltering under the blankets. Not a chance in hell he was cold, not with the temperature of his skin.

 

“Are- are you sick, Taehyung? Do you feel bad?” he murmured, rubbing his hands mindlessly over the blonde’s covered shoulder. Taehyung hadn’t been sick once during their rooming together, not even so much as sneezing. 

 

Taehyung nodded, burying his face in his pillow. “Cold,” he said, shivering beneath his blankets. 

 

Jungkook felt his heart crack as he observed his sick boyfriend. A moment of panic hit him first, wondering what the hell he should do, when he remembered it was normal for people to get sick and Taehyung wasn’t exempt from the functions of the human body just because he was angelic. 

 

“I’m going to get you some medicine, okay? I have some from the last time I was sick,” he told Taehyung gently, running fingers through his hair. “We can go shopping another day.”

 

Taehyung felt blindly for his hand, intertwining his fingers with Jungkook’s even in his sleepy state. The instinctual reach for affection warmed Jungkook from head to toe as he bent down to kiss his brow. 

 

“Let’s get you feeling better.”

 

~

 

Taehyung was not feeling better. In fact, Taehyung was far, far worse. 

 

Jungkook hadn’t slept in over a day, staying up beside Taehyung through the night while he had nearly sweat through his sheets. The Spring looked pained, exacerbating Jungkook’s already panicked state, his abnormal body heat rolling off in radiating waves that had even Jungkook wiping moisture from his brow. 

 

The scent of vanilla had depleted rapidly and had quickly been replaced with the rainy scent Jungkook was coming to loathe. There was nothing pleasurable about it whatsoever, even if it was coming from Taehyung. It didn’t have any of Taehyung’s aura in it, nor was it a representative of anything he was familiar with. 

 

He had sat beside Taehyung as hour after hour ticked by, running cold cloths over his skin as his grandmother had done for him when he had the flu as a child. He administered plenty of fever-reducing medicines, going as far as to switch brands if he needed to, but to his utter frustration, nothing seemed to be making a difference.

 

He could barely drink, only occasionally swallowing when Jungkook forced some water down his throat, and he had rejected all offers of even his most favorite snacks. It wasn’t normal.

 

Taehyung was only growing hotter by the second. 

 

A few times in the night, Taehyung had called out for Jungkook, nearly shocking him out of his skin. But other than saying he didn’t feel well or that he needed him, Taehyung was unresponsive to most of Jungkook’s questions.

 

It was worrying the shit out of him. Taehyung being out of commission felt like half of his existence was missing. He wasn’t sure if it was the bond or simply their relationship, but either way, it was crippling without Taehyung’s smile or laughter in his life. 

 

“I need you to feel better, baby,” he said softly, feeling his gut tighten at Taehyung’s furrowed brows. “We’ll have to go to the doctor if this keeps up.”

 

Jungkook wasn’t a fan of doctors, as he had been forced to lie to many in an effort to keep his seasonal traits under wraps, but it meant making Taehyung feel better quicker, he’d deal with a hundred.

 

Still, his boyfriend’s state had deteriorated at such a rapid pace, it still was impossible not to panic, especially with the lack of sleep in him. 

 

Pulling out his phone with tired eyes, Jungkook found Jimin’s number without even needing to look. As it rang, he held it to his ear, still petting Taehyung in the same way he had done for hours.

 

“Jungkookie!” his friends amused voice rang, “I was just thinking of you! I miss you so much! We just got in about an hour ago.”  

 

Jungkook swallowed thickly, already feeling guilty for knowing he was about to ruin Jimin’s day.

 

“Hyung,” he said, his voice hoarse from lack of use. 

 

There was a pause the length of a breath on the other end. “ ...Hyung? ” he laughed. “Since when do you call me hyung?”

 

The sapphire eyed Winter flinched as a shiver wracked through Taehyung, renewing his worries. “I think Tae is sick.”

 

Another pause, this time longer, filled the silence. “What do you mean, he’s sick?” Jimin asked warily. 

 

“He’s burning up, Jimin, not in the usual way. Like, hotter.” Jungkook brushed his fingers over Taehyung’s forehead again just to confirm. His statement was correct: Taehyung was still an inferno. “And there’s a really weird scent. It’s not his at all. It’s just not… Taehyung.”

 

There was static as Jimin breathed deeply into the receiver, mumbling indiscernibly to someone in the background. Jungkook knew it was Yoongi. 

 

“Taehyung doesn’t get sick, Jungkook. Spring princes don’t get colds, they have killer immune systems.”

 

Jungkook’s heart thudded in fear. “He looks like- like he’s in pain, hyung. I haven’t slept all night, medicine isn’t working, I’m-”

 

“It’s okay, Jungkook,” Jimin said, though the worried tone in his voice was easily readable. “We’re gonna come over, alright? We’ll be there in a bit.”

 

Eyes raking over Taehyung’s sickly form, Jungkook felt miserable, as if Taehyung was still sharing his emotions with him through their bond. 

 

“Okay. Hurry.”

 

 

“Shit.”

 

The word alone was enough to send fear through Jungkook when Jimin rushed from the doorway to Taehyung’s side, followed closely by a dark haired Yoongi. 

 

Taehyung’s blonde locks were splayed across Jungkook’s thighs, his head resting in the Winter’s lap. He had begun to cling to Jungkook so hard that he had simply given up on sitting next to him and opted to get as close as possible to the Spring instead. 

 

“How long has he been like this?” Jimin said, laying his own hand across Taehyung’s forehead. He hissed at the heat that lingered there, sending Yoongi an urgent look. The grey-eyed Winter’s stare was dark as he observed Taehyung, his face rigid. 

 

“Wouldn’t get up yesterday morning,” Jungkook said, each word dripping with exhaustion. “For a couple days before that, I noticed he was a little shaky and warm, but otherwise...”

 

He cupped Taehyung’s cheek with his palm, running a thumb over the smooth, burning skin. It tore him apart to see Taehyung so sick, and it was worse seeing his friends look so worried. 

 

When his golden gaze flicked back up to his friends, they were staring at him in shock. 

 

“Jungkook,” Jimin said sternly, “what the fuck was that?” 

 

It took him a moment before he realized what the problem was. 

 

“I don’t know. One day probably two weeks ago, right when you guys left, I accidentally grabbed Taehyung when he fell and,” he swallowed, heart hurting at how badly he wanted to see Taehyung smile again, “we realized there wasn’t any pain anymore.” 

 

As if to prove a point, Jungkook brushed his hands through Taehyung’s damp hair, eventually trailing his fingers down to the tip of his boyfriend’s chin. 

 

He was burning up, and Jungkook’s cold was doing little to help. 

 

Why was he always powerless in every way imaginable when it came to Taehyung? 

 

Jimin and Yoongi were having a silent conversation between their worried looks. After a few moments, the Winter nodded, pulling out his phone and exiting the dorm room without so much of a goodbye. 

 

“This is wrong, Jungkook,” Jimin said, his own hands beginning to shake. “Did you and Taehyung do anything out of the ordinary? Did you see anyone weird around him?”

 

Wracking his tired brain, Jungkook thought back to the previous few weeks, finding no evidence of any strange presences. It had primarily been him and Taehyung, unless they were in public. 

 

“There was no one but...as far as doing things...um...” 

 

It was a really fucking stupid time to be embarrassed, but Jungkook still was anyway. 

 

Even in his concerned state, Jimin snorted, though a smile didn’t reach his face. “You guys are so whipped.” 

 

Jungkook grimaced. “While it was...uh...occurring, I had accidentally tried to tap into the bond power between us,” Jungkook explained sheepishly, hoping that Jimin knew of everything they were discussing in the first place. “Don’t ask me to describe it because I absolutely can’t. All I can think of is stars and Taehyung.”

 

Jimin’s wide eyes were not making him feel any better. 

 

“...Stars? You mean you felt stardust?” 

 

Jungkook shrugged, still threading his fingers through Taehyung’s hair almost like a nervous habit. “That’s the only way I could explain it.” 

 

The Summer looked ready to faint at Jungkook’s explanation. 

 

“How much did Taehyung tell you, Jungkook?” 

 

Shooting his friend a perplexed expression, he tilted his head to the side. “What do you mean by how much? He told me about the bond and monarchs. Is there more?” 

 

Jimin looked agonized as he stared at Taehyung’s pathetic, shaking form. “Damn it, damn it Taehyung. You were supposed to tell him, what the hell were you thinking?”

 

Nervousness swam in Jungkook’s gut. “Tell me what?” 

 

After several moments of silence, Jimin eventually opened his mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by a trail of harsh swearing from Jungkook. 

 

“Fuck, Taehyung!” he yelled, watching his boyfriend writhe and shake with a suddenness that had his heart bursting from his chest. Jungkook slipped out from beneath him, climbing off the side of the bed to hold onto some part, any part of Taehyung. 

 

Jungkook watched in horror as Taehyung’s eyes rolled back, muscles locking and unlocking as the little color that remained drained from his face. His movements were horrifically unnatural, limbs twitching at all angles.

 

Taehyung was having a seizure. 

 

“Yoongi!” Jimin screeched, rushing to Taehyung’s side. “Taehyung, stay with me here!” 

 

The door burst open, Yoongi’s eyes grey and wild as he took in the sight of Taehyung seizing. Jungkook barely registered his arrival, that his friend’s eyes were glowing dimly with a dull light. 

 

Jungkook thought he might be sick when saw nothing around him, nothing but the pain in Taehyung’s pale face and the disturbing way he moved. He was panicking, barely breathing as he observed him, shaking violently with adrenaline and dread.

 

Jungkook!

 

He clutched at his chest as agony tore through him, as though the bond between them was being ripped in Taehyung’s direction. Vision fading to black, Jungkook was plummeted into a dark abyss against his will. He was being dragged down into an ocean of power, lifted up into a sky built outside of their reality, pushed through a vortex of stars and galaxies that ripped him apart. 

 

Jungkook knew Taehyung was crying out to him through the bond, but he couldn’t hold back, he couldn’t control it, he wasn’t ready-

 

Blinking, Jungkook saw Taehyung on the bed before him, his body motionless. A thin, red line of blood had rolled from his lips, dribbling onto his chin. 

 

Yoongi was shaking him, screaming words he couldn’t hear. All he could see was Taehyung and the blood, blood from his lips, Jimin’s hand reaching for Taehyung’s-

 

NO!

 

Stardust finally burst from Jungkook’s veins, momentarily swallowing him whole as he was gripped with a primal desire to protect Taehyung. With another blink, Jimin was on the other side of Jungkook’s room, his wide eyes overflowing with tears and his nose bleeding. 

 

Thoughts gripped him that weren’t his own, feelings that overshadowed all that he was. The sentiment felt foreign and yet familiar to him as it took control of his tumultuous emotions.  

 

Taehyung is mine. He belongs to me, you won’t take him from me again, this is our-

 

As he was pinned to the wall, Jungkook bit his tongue, the pain sparking in the darkness that swam before him. Glittery stardust obscured his vision, but Jungkook was aware of Yoongi holding him by the throat, of Jimin slumping against the opposing wall, of Taehyung... 

 

“Tae,” he choked through his sobs, tears rolling onto his cheeks at the sight of his lifeless partner. “Taehyung!” 

 

“Jungkook!” Yoongi yelled, his illuminated grey piercing Jungkook with fury. “Get yourself together and close it off! Shut the bond or both you and Taehyung are screwed.” 

 

Chest heaving, the Winter’s reality wavered, his thoughts consumed with only his love for Taehyung and the stardust at his fingertips.

 

Yoongi was still pinning Jungkook to the wall as unknown figures rushed into the room, shouting things Jungkook couldn’t understand. When they reached for his boyfriend, he felt rage overtake him, drowning out any other thought. 

 

Don’t you fucking touch him-

 

Jin was there then, holding Jungkook’s face tightly between his hands. 

 

“Jungkook, you will calm down and turn your power off or I’ll do it for you,” Jin said in a calming voice. 

 

But- Taehyung, they’re taking him, our bond, Taehyung-  

 

“They’re going to help him, Jungkookie. You’re not helping him in this state. Calm down or we’re putting you out. Breathe. You need to breathe.”

 

Jungkook was gasping for air, his lungs seemingly having forgotten how to function. He blinked rapidly, the stardust in his mouth like ashes as his vision shot around the room. 

 

Jin was in front of him, his hardened eyes unblinking. 

 

“H-hyung,” he choked, a panic attack quickly emerging, “what’s happening, Taehyung-”

 

“They’re taking him to the hospital. I know you’re scared, but they’ll stabilize him. You need to let go of the bond, you can’t control this without Taehyung’s guidance.”

 

Jungkook didn’t want to let go of the opening they had created. Taehyung was being taken from him. How could anyone ask him to let go? 

 

“You have to, Jungkook. It’s harming you to channel so much power without him. You need to calm down. You can help Taehyung if you can tell us what happened.” 

 

Help… Taehyung? Calm down?  

 

Emotions rushed Jungkook all at once, suffocating him as he slid down the wall behind him. There was chaos around him as the last of the medical workers filed out, a few left speaking to Yoongi who was holding a rather battered Jimin. 

 

Jungkook felt himself shaking, his eyes blurred with tears.

 

“Hyung,” he sobbed, burying his face in Jin’s neck, “please help him, please.” 

 

He felt Jin grip him tightly, his voice confident but his hands shaking. 

 

“We’ll try, Jungkookie. We’ll try.”

Chapter Text

Jungkook was tired. 

 

He was tired of the scent of bleach after he vomited into the hospital toilet. 

 

He was tired of looking in the bathroom mirror, blinking until his eyes returned to their dormant state, if they even had one anymore. 

 

He was tired without Taehyung. 

 

Anytime he was in the hospital room with Taehyung, Jungkook felt like he was being sucked into an existence that didn’t belong to him. The Spring was constantly calling for him through their bond, constantly enticing him with the taste of stardust, but his scent was still a miserable smell of rain. 

 

It was almost impossible not to glow gold around Taehyung, but when Jungkook was tugged through the bond, his irises would flash to a stark black filled with and endless array of stars. The few times he had seen it in his reflection were disturbing, mystified that Taehyung had so much influence over his existence. 

 

The squeak of the bathroom door jolted him where he stood at the sink. 

 

“Kook?” 

 

Namjoon’s silver hair popped around the corner, his concerned eyes meeting Jungkook’s sunken pair, sympathy already in their gaze. 

 

“They’re gone now, if- if you want to come out.” 

 

Jungkook sighed, running his hand through his greasy hair. He hadn’t slept or showered in a shameful amount of time, having stayed at the hospital for over three days. Taehyung would have probably killed him for his lack of self care. 

 

After they had come for Taehyung in his dorm, Jungkook hadn’t been able to properly speak to Jimin, Yoongi or Jin without feeling his power roaring within him. He knew it wasn’t their fault they were in the situation, but they reminded him of what it felt like to harness galaxies at his fingertips without Taehyung to aid him. 

 

He had even hurt Jimin somehow, unsure of exactly what he had done, but the fear in the Summerborne’s eyes and the anger in his boyfriend’s was enough to make him feel guilty for the rest of his life.

 

He was deathly afraid of Jimin and Yoongi never speaking to him again, though he couldn’t blame them if they never did. Even though he was frustrated with them for their secrecy, he didn’t think he could take his friendships unraveling on top of Taehyung’s state. 

 

Jungkook was mourning. He mourned the loss of Jimin’s endless crude humor and reassuring smiles, of Yoongi’s unwavering presence and grounding attitude. 

 

He mourned his boyfriend and the sudden loss of his warmth. He missed his smile, his laugh and his pouty whine. Taehyung was the one thing he couldn’t live without, and that was ringing true now. 

 

Jungkook wasn’t living. 

 

“I’m sure you know this, but you look like shit,” Namjoon said with a wistful smile as Jungkook took a seat beside him outside of Taehyung’s room. The Winter put his head in his hands, rubbing circles into his tired eyes. All they did was fucking change color lately. 

 

“I’m aware,” he responded dryly, far beyond capable of making jokes in his state. 

 

Namjoon frowned beside him, laying a reassuring palm on his knee. “I know things are… messed up right now, but you’ve got to talk to them, Kook,” he said quietly, staring at the white wall before them. “You deserve to have your questions answered.”

 

Fists clenched in his lap, Jungkook felt anger ebb and flow through him like his own pulse. He was still angry that Yoongi and Jimin had known more than they had let on the whole time, and that Jin and Namjoon were also involved. He wouldn’t even be surprised if Hoseok was in on it, somehow. 

 

“I’d like to know how everyone knows more about my own boyfriend and probably myself than I do,” he said, feeling dust in his mouth that tasted like stars. 

 

There was a sigh from the Autumn as he squeezed Jungkook’s knee. “We know a lot of facts, but no one knows Taehyung like you do, Jungkook. No one will pretend to know what it’s like to be bonded. We can only share with you what we’ve been taught.”

 

Jungkook released a long exhale, feeling completely and utterly fatigued. Every time he closed his eyes to nod off, he was jolting awake a few moments later, heart racing as if Taehyung had faded from the waking world. Although his boyfriend’s condition was generally stable, it was nearly impossible to sleep without the soft scent of vanilla near him now, without the feeling of a blonde head nuzzling into his chest. 

 

Thinking of Taehyung had the ache in Jungkook’s heart flaring. It wasn’t uncommon that he be reduced to tears every few hours as memories of the last few weeks surfaced over and over again in his mind. 

 

He couldn’t believe he had lost him already.

 

Jungkook had known their time spent together had been too good to be true. He just hadn’t expected it to be severed this quickly. 

 

“Stop looking so hopeless,” Namjoon said quietly, gently elbowing him in the side. “Taehyung is still here, and he’s not going anywhere. We’ll find a way to fix this.”

 

“‘We’ll’? Who’s ‘we’ll’?” Jungkook asked scathingly, growing tired of hearing the same comforts over and over. “You mean everyone that was supposed to protect him? Look how well that went.” 

 

Nails dug into Jungkook’s palms as his fists tightened. “I couldn’t even protect him. All I’ve ever done is fail him.”

 

He felt his friend tense beside him. 

 

“Jungkook, cut the bullshit.”

 

The Winter raised his brows, taken aback by the harsh tone. He was unable to recall a time when Namjoon had actually lost his patience with him enough to get mad at him. 

 

“All of us would throw themselves in front of a bus for you or Taehyung. Not only is it their… jobs, but we also love you both more than you know.” A firm hand clasped his shoulder as Namjoon’s dark eyes met Jungkook’s. “Taehyung would kill you for blowing them off, you know that.”

 

It was true, Jungkook knew with certainty that Taehyung would absolutely want Jungkook to be cocooned by his friends during a time when he was out of commission, but it was still hard to face the people who brought out the emotions he’d rather be numb to right now. 

 

“You will talk to them. I don’t care if I have to lock you in a room, I’ll do it,” the Autumn said stubbornly, leaving no room for argument. “The best way to fix Taehyung is to get all the relevant information in one place. Time to put your feelings aside for the sake of the person you love. Knowing you, I don’t think you’ll find it all that difficult.”

 

Jungkook knew he couldn’t avoid them forever, and though he had tried, Namjoon had a point. The more information he had about Taehyung, the closer he could be to having him back in his arms again. 

 

He released a long sigh, cold puffs leaving his nostrils. Since Taehyung had gone down, Jungkook’s power seemed to be as volatile as ever, not that he was surprised. 

 

“Alright, fine,” he conceded. “But don’t expect me to act like this is okay, because it’s not. I’m not okay, Taehyung’s not okay. We’re- we’re broken, hyung.”

 

Namjoon gave him a pained look, words escaping him for once. Instead, he squeezed Jungkook’s shoulder again, pulling out his phone to likely text the group that Jungkook had finally given in. 

 

His head hit the wall behind him as Jungkook leaned back to burn his eyes on the fluorescent lights above him. He always said he’d do anything for Taehyung, but this was definitely right on the line of things he wouldn’t do. 

 

There wasn’t much scarier than facing the people he loved when his heart was so unhappy, especially while the one that loved him the most sat on the brink of death.

 

~

 

Sleep clung heavily to Jungkook’s eyelids while he sat in a chair beside Taehyung’s bed, his neck barely keeping his head held up as he nodded off. He curled his knees to his chest, his back sore from holding Taehyung’s unresponsive hand for hours.

 

It comforted him that Taehyung didn’t look like he was in much pain as he ran a thumb over his knuckles, despite the variety of devices connected to him to keep him alive. 

 

Still, Jungkook was keenly aware of how grey Taehyung seemed to be, his hair having lost its shimmer and his cheeks sunken and sickly. Taehyung’s hands didn’t feel like his without his collection of silver rings. They didn’t feel like his when they didn’t automatically thread through Jungkook’s out of habit. 

 

Taehyung was always tugging at Jungkook’s bond, always tempting him with the galaxies that lay beneath his skin. He’d become more aware of it over the course of the past few days, usually being able to curb it by reminding himself of what he had done to Jimin, of how Yoongi had looked at him, but it was still always a presence at the back of his mind. 

 

They were trading shifts watching over Taehyung most times, giving Jungkook his space when he was with his boyfriend, but they were never too far from the doorway of the hospital room.

 

Taehyung was stabilized by the doctors, helping to keep his fever somewhat under control, but there had been no sign of real progress in figuring out what truly ailed him. They were only aware of the fact that Taehyung’s cells were incinerating themselves, burning away to some invisible inferno. Jungkook’s inability to help frustrated him beyond belief.

 

He absolutely loathed his surroundings, channeling all of his irrational hatred into his glares for the washed, white walls, the neutral curtains and the abrasive blankets. It was the antithesis of what he and Taehyung had built together in their dorm, with painted galaxies above them and a fabricated seasonal cycle beside them. There was no color, no hope in the hospital room. 

 

He and Taehyung were like plants, needing to be watered by shape and color, sometimes from their own hearts. They grew by willingly sharing themselves through visual form, whether it be on a canvas or screen, and they grew by sharing pieces of themselves between each other. 

 

Right now, they could do neither. It made Jungkook want to rid himself of his own heart. 

 

Soft, whispered voices flitted over the sound of Taehyung’s many monitors from outside the room. He stuck his tongue in his cheek, feeling anxious even in his sleepiness that he’d have to face them, likely today. Namjoon had been patient enough as it was. 

 

When the quiet voices quickly escalated to a chorus of shouts, Jungkook shot up from his seat, clutching to Taehyung’s weak hand with crushing force. He tensed, standing protectively over his partner, although his knees shook with exhaustion.

 

He was about as useful as a pool noodle in his tired state, probably incapable of giving someone even a weak slap, but he’d still go down defending Taehyung with his last breath. 

 

“You can’t-!“ he heard Jin shout, before a man stumbled into the room, his wide, sky blue eyes locking onto Taehyung’s lifeless form. 

 

Jungkook’s mind was roaring, the stardust he had been struggling to withhold shooting through him like a bullet. 

 

“You,” Jungkook said breathlessly. The dark expanse was opening before him again through Taehyung, calling to him through his anger. 

 

Jungkook was seething as Lucas stared him down, a shocked expression on his face. 

 

How fucking dare he, how dare he show his face around him again, especially when he’s like this. A realization rocked Jungkook that he was probably responsible for the whole thing in the first place.

 

He bared his teeth, growling as a black abyss launched from him, his hold on Taehyung’s hand bone crushing. “You fucking-

 

There was a bang as someone tackled Jungkook to the wall, ripping his grip from Taehyung’s lifeless one and lancing pain through his spine as the air was knocked clean from his lungs. The darkness that had been swirling in his vicinity stuttered, flickering like candlelight in the breeze.

 

Jungkook wanted to protest when Namjoon crowded him, urgently telling him to calm down. He was so tired of being unable to protect the person he loved as frustration pounded through his useless limbs, but the sight of Jimin in front of him had him stunned. 

 

Yoongi was gripping Jimin’s shoulders from behind as the Summer held his arm to Lucas’s throat, tears running down his friend’s haggard face. 

 

“What did you do to him?! What did you do, Lucas?! I’ll fucking kill you!” he snarled, his body shaking with emotion. 

 

“Easy, babe,” Yoongi said calmly, though the daggers he was glaring at the unwelcome visitor were sharp enough to peel his skin where he stood. 

 

Shock and another emotion flitted through Jungkook’s tired mind. This wasn’t the carefree, jovial Jimin he had come to know. He thought it might be pride in him at the sight of his friends, pride in their evident love for Taehyung. 

 

No one deserved such loyalty more than his partner. 

 

Lucas glared at the pair with glowing eyes, his face reddening as the pressure increased against his neck. 

 

“It wasn’t me,” he choked, sputtering for air. “Let me go and- and I’ll tell you.”

 

Jimin looked ready to spill blood, his hold unwavering as more tears cascaded down his cheeks. 

 

“Let’s hear what he has to say,” Jin said quietly, his face pale where he stood next to Namjoon. 

 

With a final look of disgust, Jimin ripped his arm away from where it held the Winter against the wall. Lucas slid down to the ground, a hand coming up to massage his neck as he coughed. 

 

“You so much as touch him and I’ll end you where you stand,” Jimin said with quiet violence. 

 

Jungkook felt overwhelming fondness for his friend then, the stardust in his heart settling to a lull as he took a shuddering breath. He knew he was useless right now, but Jimin was doing well enough to get their message across. Namjoon finally stepped away as he calmed, the prior tiredness finding its way back to him. 

 

The thread connecting him to Taehyung was still there, though he was able to keep his hold on it. For now. 

 

It was quiet for a moment before Lucas inhaled, slow words tumbling from his lips. 

 

“I didn’t- I didn’t intend for this to happen,” he said, his face pained. “I warned Taehyung when I offered him the deal that Sangcheol would retaliate.”

 

The room was silent for a moment as the words seemed to sink in for everyone else, but Jungkook was still just as frustratingly confused as before.

 

“What deal?” Yoongi asked, his voice a deadly calm. 

 

Lucas’s eyes flicked to Taehyung for a moment before resuming their rapid scan around the room.

 

“I’m a little surprised he didn’t bother to tell his own cohort.”

 

Jimin was rigid beside Yoongi, his fists clenched and shaking. “Taehyung... wanted to take on the world by himself lately, no matter what we told him.”

 

Jungkook’s gaze locked to the form of Taehyung, pain prickling in his heart. It seemed his boyfriend had been intent on not only hiding things from Jungkook, but also from his best friends. He would’ve wanted to shake him had he not been so desperate to simply hold him again. 

 

The light-blue eyed Winter raised his eyebrows, but continued on.

 

“There were two options given to him. Complete the bond and partner with me,” Jungkook snapped his head to him, feeling nausea in his gut, “which we were too late for anyway, and he obviously denied,” he said resignedly. 

 

“The other choice was for him to bring his bonded prince to us and enter a partnership with him.”

 

Jungkook felt Jin move closer to him, gripping his arm tightly.

 

“In return,” Lucas continued slowly, his piercing stare boring into Jungkook’s with icy vibrance, “they would give Jungkook access to the equinoctial drug. Taehyung denied both options.”

 

Jimin sat down on the uncomfortable couch, his hands threaded through his pink locks. “Dammit Taehyung. We could’ve helped you!” His pink eyes glanced to the bed, agony in his expression while the Spring was unresponsive. “Why do you insist on doing this shit alone?”

 

Jungkook had to agree with Jimin. Even if he barely understood what was happening, he wished Taehyung could have trusted him more. He would’ve done anything to prevent him from getting ill, he was sure Taehyung knew that. 

 

Perhaps that was the problem. 

 

“I told him denying Sangcheol and keeping Jungkook from us would put a target on his boy’s back. I didn’t think they’d go for him instead.” 

 

It was Namjoon who stepped forward this time, his face the perfect picture of authority as he stared down at Lucas with crossed arms. “What did they do to him?”

 

Lucas glanced to Taehyung again, his nostrils flaring before his gaze locked to Jungkook’s. 

 

“You can smell it too, right? The rain.”

 

Jungkook wanted nothing more than to ignore him, but he was tired, and being resistant wouldn’t bring Taehyung back. After a moment of hesitation, he nodded.

 

The man looked down at his hands. “I know how the equinoctial drug works... as do you, Min,” he said, addressing an expressionless Yoongi. “Winters can handle it with our power reserves, but Springs are more… delicate.”

 

The room was quiet enough for a pin to drop as Jungkook’s heart thudded in his chest. 

 

“Are you saying they slipped him the equinoctial drug?” Jin asked softly, his leg bouncing anxiously from where he sat close to Jungkook. 

 

Jimin swore. “The girl from the coffee shop…” he groaned, putting his head in his palm. “God, how didn’t I see it?”

 

Lucas shrugged. “I don’t know exactly what happened. They’re not dumb enough to tell me anything. They know my feelings about Taehyung.”

 

Though Jungkook was irritated by his statement, he stayed quiet. 

 

“There’s been plenty of experimentation on Springborne with the drug in small doses. Progress goes up and comes down just as quickly. They’re already too warm to handle the conversion in energy, all they do is burn out.”

 

Yoongi was tense where he stood, so much so that Jungkook wondered if he was still breathing. 

 

“The only ones that survive... are the ones who are bonded and partnered,” Lucas said, undeniable guilt lingering in his voice.

 

All heads in the room aside from Taehyung’s swiveled to Jungkook, their faces holding different levels of distress. Sweat dripped down his back as he felt the pressure on him that he barely understood suddenly increase. 

 

Taehyung had been told to ‘partner’ with Jungkook, and he had refused, so much so that he put himself in danger. Jungkook didn’t understand why, because he’d be more than willing to do whatever it took to keep him out of harm’s way, but Taehyung had done too good a job of taking everything on alone.

 

“Taehyung was adamant in keeping Jungkook out of this,” Yoongi said gravely while looking at Taehyung, confirming Jungkook’s thoughts. “I told him it was unavoidable, but you know how stubborn he is.”

 

Shaking his head, Jimin wiped away his fresh tears as he approached the side of Taehyung’s bed. He took his friend's hand, his face wrought with a mix of anger and worry. “I swear to god, Kim Taehyung, as soon as you’re out of this bed, I’m kicking your ass enough to put you right back in it.”

 

Jungkook snorted at Jimin, shaking his head at the image that he found all too believable. He couldn’t help the laughter that escaped him - he was disgustingly exhausted, devastated by Taehyung’s state and confused beyond belief. Nothing made sense, except that Jimin was as ridiculous as always. 

 

Jimin’s surprised gaze met his immediately, silencing his laughter as quickly as it came, but his friend only had kindness in his flecked eyes. He shot Jungkook a small smile, his swollen, teary eyes turning into little crescents. 

 

Feeling something break within him, Jungkook sucked in a sharp breath. He was tired, so tired, and the inexplicable tears were coming back, threatening to swallow him whole. Jimin should hate him, Yoongi should hate him, this was all his fault-

 

Jin’s hand threaded through Jungkook’s hair, distracting him from his spiral. “Easy, Jungkookie. I know it’s a lot to take in.” The Summer glanced worriedly with the group, murmuring something to Namjoon.

 

“Yoongi and I will get the rest of the details from Lucas in the cafe,” the Autumn said, leaving little room for interpretation. Namjoon meant to drag them out to give Jungkook some space. 

 

Lucas’s gaze was locked to Taehyung, a look on his face that had Jungkook prickling with heat. He had never been the possessive type, but the stupid bond was always clawing at him to protect Taehyung, even from those who would never hurt him. 

 

“I’m sorry, Taehyungie,” he murmured, looking close to tears. Jungkook wondered how someone could cry over the same person they had assaulted months beforehand. 

 

Lucas looked to Jungkook then, his stare full of pain. 

 

“Take care of him.”

 

Jungkook swallowed, averting his gaze with a curt nod, feeling thoroughly unconvinced that he was capable of taking care of Taehyung in any sufficient way anymore. 

 

As the trio filed out of the room, Jungkook felt sleep nearly assault him where he sat against the wall. His eyelids threatened to close at any moment, even with Jin shaking him.

 

“Just lay down with Taehyung, Jungkookie. There’s no harm in it,” his friend said softly, jostling him by the shoulders. 

 

Stumbling to his feet after being practically lifted up by Jin, he sat down on Taehyung’s bed, feeling his heart squeeze with pain being so close to his unconscious form. Jin had a point, he’d probably sleep far better near his boyfriend, but he wasn’t even sure if he was entitled to such a privilege anymore. Not with his lackluster performance as a protector. 

 

“Lay down before you fall asleep sitting up, dork,” Jimin said, gently pushing him to flatten out beside Taehyung. “Tae would want you beside him.”

 

It wasn’t the most comfortable, with flattened pillows and monitor wires attached to Taehyung, and the harsh smell of sterile tools was abrasive against his nose. But the closer he got to the blonde, the more he was able to pick up on the tiniest tinges of vanilla in the rainy air, the scent comforting him more than any words could say. 

 

Carefully, he held Taehyung’s warm hand against his chest. The sadness in him was almost too much to bear as he thought of the moments of pure bliss he had shared with the Spring just a week beforehand. He would do anything to return to that time, or even just to get Taehyung to wake again. He could only pray there was a way to pull him out of it. 

 

Jungkook was sure someone was stroking his dirtied locks of hair as he fell into a deep, dark slumber. 

 

~

 

“God, finally!”

 

Scrunching his nose, Jungkook felt sleep weighing him down like a sack of rocks. Irritation prickled him - he had just finally gotten some rest, and now he was getting rudely woken up so soon?

 

“C’mon, I’ve been waiting for days and this is what I get?!” 

 

Jungkook felt a pillow smacking his face, completely disrupting his relaxation. He just wanted to feel better and get stronger, what that so much to ask? He needed to recover so he could protect Taehyung.

 

Taehyung…

 

Panic gripped Jungkook’s heart.

 

Taehyung was sick, Taehyung was burning, Taehyung was dying-

 

Snapping his eyes open, Jungkook was immediately blinded by a painful white surrounding him. He blinked rapidly as his eyes adjusted, the walls of the hospital room replaced with only an endless expanse of white. 

 

He wasn’t sure where he was, considering the hospital had looked nothing but dark and dreary, despite the pale walls throughout the facility. This looked more like the sky, or some kind of heaven. Maybe a snug place trapped inside a lightbulb. 

 

“About time you show up,” a voice to his left said. 

 

Jungkook’s heart thudded in his chest at the voice, wondering if he was hallucinating. He found he couldn’t do much more than turn his head, his limbs too heavy to move, but he still managed to crane his neck to face the presence beside him. 

 

Yep. Definitely hallucinating. 

 

His lips parted, the name “Taehyung” on his tongue, only for his vocal cords to be locked in paralysis. 

 

A perfectly healthy Taehyung was sitting casually beside him on the bed, looking down at him with eyes of so many blinding colors that Jungkook couldn’t focus on just one. There were no wires or monitors connected to him, the usual flush on his cheeks having returned and his golden hair shimmering like a halo. 

 

To his shock, Taehyung had wings folded onto his back, wings made of colors that Jungkook had trouble comprehending. The pair didn’t seem solid, but they weren’t part of the air either. 

 

But his wings were minor compared to the smile on Taehyung’s tanned face, its boxy brightness stronger than the surrounding light. There was also the vanilla scent, distinctly Taehyung’s, one that was readily cocooning him with immeasurable contentment.

 

Jungkook felt his heart stop beating. Leave it to him to have such a self-indulgent dream of Taehyung while his boyfriend was actually fighting for his life. 

 

“I’ve been calling out to you like crazy from here and you kept ignoring me,” Taehyung said, a pout on his lips. 

 

Jungkook felt the tears before he registered them, the wetness leaking from his eyes onto the pillow below him. He couldn’t move his arms to wipe his face, but he didn’t mind.

 

Taehyung was alive in front of him, pouting at him. He could never talk or move again and he’d still be happy with what he was seeing. 

 

The blonde tilted his head over Jungkook, a confused look crossing his face as he reached out to wipe away the Winter’s tears. The affection only had Jungkook’s waterworks intensifying. 

 

“Can you not move or speak here?”

 

Jungkook shook his head, which seemed to be the only cooperative part of his body. 

 

Biting his lip, Taehyung seemed to think hard before wiggling down the bed to lie directly beside Jungkook, so close their noses were almost touching. He intertwined his long fingers with Jungkook’s between them, sending a surge of sparks through the Winter.

 

“I missed you, Kookie. It’s been really lonely here without you,” he said softly. “I’m not exactly sure what’s happening out there, but I know I’m not doing well. I’m sure it’s been hard on you.”

 

Jungkook felt the misery of the last few days unleash from him all at once, tears obscuring his vision. I missed you too, I missed you so much, Tae. I’m so scared of losing you.

 

Taehyung’s face fell into a forlorn expression at his reaction, only serving to rip him apart even more. 

 

“That bad, huh?” he said with a sad smile, his own glimmering eyes watery as he gently wiped more of Jungkook’s tears away. They sat in silence while Taehyung traced soothing circles with his thumb, healing him with his presence and light touches alone. 

 

“Do you know where we are right now?”

 

Jungkook shook his head. No. 

 

The Spring smiled softly at him. “I’m not sure either, but we wouldn’t be able to be here if it wasn’t for you and your obliviousness, actually,” he said with a giggle. “That pendant you gave me, it's actually an heirloom.”

 

At Jungkook’s confused expression, Taehyung released a sigh. 

 

“I’m guessing Jimin and Yoongs haven’t filled you in on all the shit I kept from you yet, right?”

 

No.  

 

“Because you’ve been wallowing without me?” 

 

Yes. 

 

“Because I’m the best thing on earth and you can’t live without me, right?” 

 

Jungkook huffed, squinting suspiciously as Taehyung’s laugh chimed through the air, the sound filling him to the brim. He had missed it so much. 

 

“Sorry, this is just friken’ hilarious. I didn’t know muted Kookie could be so cute.” 

 

It was silly, considering how close they were by now, but Jungkook felt his cheeks redden at the compliment anyway. 

 

Taehyung threaded his long fingers through Jungkook’s hair, his warm touch a comfort Jungkook could never tire of. “Regal heirlooms are passed down through families that have connections to the original monarchs. You happen to have several, one you gave to me,” Taehyung said, pulling a small sapphire stone hung from a thin silver chain from beneath his shirt. “I’m using its massive reserves to channel a stable bond between us. Your pull is way too strong when you’re awake, but when you’re asleep, I can sneak in every now and then.”

 

The Winter raised his eyebrows, surprised he hadn’t noticed the power emanating from the pendant before. He wondered if his grandmother had known what kind of necklace it truly was.

 

“You’re definitely thinking ‘Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before!’, aren’t you?” 

 

Smiling, Jungkook didn’t bother nodding his head. 

 

“How well do I know you by now?” Taehyung said with amusement. “You probably can tell now because you’ve tapped into our bond enough become familiar with other affinities. Yours is typically winter, except…”

 

His boyfriend paused, gazing aimlessly at the bright white light. 

 

“Something about us changed, Jungkook, or maybe we changed the bond. I don’t understand the power we share yet. I’ve never heard, seen or felt anything like it. Even in the basic seasonal history I know, there was never a single mention of… galaxies or stars.” 

 

Jungkook followed his gaze upwards into the infinite white sky above them. He had hoped Taehyung had some idea of how to control the stardust, but it worried him how clueless they both seemed to be about their bond. 

 

“Does...does it scare you, being with someone like me?” 

 

Entranced by his side profile, Jungkook shook his head. He tried with all his might to squeeze his hand, only the very tips of his fingers twitching in response. 

 

Taehyung glanced at their clasped hands for a moment before dragging his gaze up to Jungkook. 

 

“You should be afraid,” he whispered, his worried eyes quickly moving around Jungkook’s features. 

 

But this was Taehyung he was talking to, the silliest and most endearing dork he had the pleasure of dating, of being bonded to. Like hell he was afraid.

 

Afraid of a whiny, pouty, glittery pain in the ass? Jungkook thought, snorting to himself. Yeah, right. 

 

A wide grin split Taehyung’s face nearly in two at Jungkook’s reaction. “You know, I’m pretty sure I can read your thoughts, and you’re currently swearing at me. Tell me I’m wrong.”

 

Jungkook’s face hurt from the grin he had, his bunny teeth on full display. 

 

Taehyung laughed loudly, bringing his face to Jungkook’s. He quickly stole a kiss, messily hitting his boyfriend’s teeth. 

 

Jungkook was so happy. He was so fucking happy. There was no better feeling than being beside a giggling, sparkling Taehyung. 

 

“Don’t think you can just sleep again and see me, though,” Taehyung said, his bright smile slowly transitioning to a sad one. “I can feel how weak my body is. I don’t think I’ll be strong enough to do this again.”

 

His heart hurt thinking of what Taehyung was implying. Hopefully he meant until he woke up again.

 

“Speaking of that, we can’t let you sleep forever, as much as I’d love to keep you here, especially when you can’t hit me with any of those cocky comebacks you love so much,” he laughed, brushing his face into the crook of Jungkook’s neck. 

 

He wanted to wrap his arms around Taehyung so badly. He loved him so much, the pain was nearing physical. 

 

“Promise me something, Kookie.”

 

Jungkook huffed into the head of hair on his chest in response. 

 

“Don’t enter a partnership with me.”

 

...What?

 

Jungkook froze, his body rigid beneath Taehyung. Lucas had said the only survivors of the tests were those who were bonded and partnered. 

 

“They’re all going to tell you to do it to save me. They know I didn’t tell you for a reason. It’s not something you should be dragged into, and I won’t let you ruin your life because of me. Entering a partnership changes you.”

 

That’s not your choice, Tae. You ARE my life, you couldn’t ruin it with anything except dying from this. His brow furrowed in frustration. He was so angry that he couldn’t protest. 

 

“You give too much of yourself as it is, baby,” Taehyung said, clinging to Jungkook’s shirt out of habit. “I know you’d willingly sign up for hell and more for me, which is one reason why I love you so much, but I couldn’t live knowing you’d change yourself for me, knowing you’d be dealing with the same shit they put us through.”

 

But how the hell am I supposed to save you then? Jungkook thought desperately. 

 

“I- I just… I don’t know what to do,” he said, his voice broken with sadness. Jungkook was so damn sick of them crying, but he still felt tears prickle in the back of his throat at Taehyung’s tone.

 

“I’m scared, Kookie. I don’t- I don’t want to die, but I feel like chaining you to a partnership is almost more painful.”

 

Jungkook was seeing red. Even with his paralyzed body, he still shook with a mix of anger and fear. 

 

Taehyung was taking too many bullets without regard for his own safety. There was no point in saving Jungkook if he couldn’t save himself. 

 

The Spring glanced up at him, his eyes watery at their rims. “I’m sorry. I know this is hard for you. I’m sorry everything we are has to be so complicated.”

 

Jungkook thought it might be complicated in some ways, but that it was actually a lot more simple than Taehyung was making it out to be. 

 

Jungkook loved him, and Taehyung loved Jungkook. That was all he needed to know. The rest was of little importance. 

 

Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Taehyung attempted to compose himself. “I have to go for a little bit now, love. It won’t be forever, okay? We’re bonded, don’t forget. Nothing can split us apart.” 

 

A hand reached up to Jungkook’s face, wiping away the moisture that lingered there.

 

Jungkook wondered why it felt so much like goodbye. 

 

“Tell Jiminie and Yoongs and the whole crew that I love them with my whole heart and make sure to have a talk with them. Please tell Chim not to axe murder me.” 

 

He wanted to laugh, and he thought Taehyung had intended to laugh, but they were both crying instead. Jungkook thought his heart was splitting in two, and his boyfriend was taking half with him.

 

“I’m going to put you back to sleep now, alright?” he said coaxingly, his voice so thick with compassion that Jungkook nearly choked on it. “Sleep now, you need it.”

 

Taehyung pressed his forehead to Jungkook’s, rubbing their noses together as the earlier exhaustion came crawling back to him.

 

“I love you, Jungkook.”

 

I love you, too. I love you so much, Taehyung.

 

“I know.”

 

As his eyes fluttered shut almost against his will, Jungkook only saw a familiar glittering darkness before him, though he found he was no longer scared of it. 

 

~

 

The first thing Jungkook noticed when he awoke was that the room was far darker than he remembered, and that his hand felt cramped in a vice grip. It was still too hard to move his limbs, but they already felt much lighter than they had in his dream.

 

As his vision slowly returned, Jungkook noticed he was staring at the hospital ceiling, its walls no longer an endless display of white but instead a constricting grey. 

 

“You okay, Kook?” he heard quietly from the couch, spotting Namjoon with his arms against his chest and a leg crossed over his ankle. Jin slept soundly on his shoulder, likely having been out cold based on the drool that lingered there. 

 

Jungkook didn’t have it in him to answer yet. He wasn’t okay, not at all, but at least he felt much calmer after speaking with Taehyung. 

 

Glancing to his left, the angelic Taehyung he knew still existed, but in a state that was simply horrific to observe. Gone were Taehyung’s rosy cheeks and his golden halo, his breathing only supported by the mask on his face. 

 

He was surprised to find Jimin sitting in a chair beside the bed, looking as exhausted as before. Still, his hair seemed to be in wild disarray, reassuring Jungkook that maybe he had slept a bit. A box of tissues sat on his lap.

 

“You were crying in your sleep,” he said softly, unable to meet Jungkook’s gaze. “Smiling too.”

 

It hadn’t really been a dream, Jungkook thought. He knew he had spoken directly to his boyfriend, however fleeting it had been. He held tightly to the sound of Taehyung’s tinkling laughter, refused to let go of the image of his brightly smiling face or his colorful wings. 

 

Feeling like dust was in his lungs, Jungkook slowly sat up, his muscles aching from their lack of movement. Although he hadn’t eaten or drank in many hours, he felt a lot more rejuvenated than he should have after sleeping on a tiny hospital bed. It wasn’t impossible that his connection with Taehyung had restored a great deal of his strength. He wouldn’t be surprised by it, actually. 

 

Jungkook attempted to raise his arms in a stretch, confused to find one hand held down by a firm weight. With a squeeze, he realized his fingers were threaded with Taehyung’s. 

 

Swallowing thickly, Jungkook lifted the blanket that covered them, revealing a pair of perfectly clasped hands, their forms curved in a way that Taehyung would have had to reciprocate. 

 

Jimin followed his gaze, staring at their joined palms with wide eyes. When he met Jungkook’s, his eyes were already flowing with tears. 

 

“It- it wasn’t a dream, hyung,” Jungkook said, his voice thick with sleep and tears. “I saw Tae, he talked to me, he told me-”

 

A weight knocked the air from Jungkook as it hit him, the calming scent of peaches drifting under his nose. Jimin tackled him with a hug, his small form shaking where he buried his face in Jungkook’s neck. 

 

“I’m so scared, Jungkookie,” he sobbed, wetting the sleeve of Jungkook’s shirt. “I-I feel like I failed Tae, I’m supposed to be his best friend and his cohort, and I failed him on both fronts. I failed you too, you’re both in so much pain, I’m so sorry-”

 

“Hey,” Jungkook said soothingly, patting Jimin’s back with a free hand. “I told you I talked to Tae, didn’t I?”

 

Jimin sniffled as he nodded into Jungkook’s shoulder. 

 

“Well, he told me to tell you he loves you, all of you, with his whole heart.”

 

Jin was awake now, his eyes watery as he watched Jimin and Jungkook on the bed. Namjoon held an arm tightly around him. 

 

“He also begged me not to let you axe murder him, in his own words,” Jungkook said to his shaking friend. Jimin pulled away, rubbing at his eyes as he cackled in a watery voice. The sound brought more relief to Jungkook than he expected. 

 

“I hope you told him what a damn idiot he is,” Jimin said as he plopped back down into his chair, looking utterly spent. 

 

Jungkook grimaced at the bedsheets. “Well, unfortunately, I couldn’t move much or speak for some reason. He said we communicated through the reserves in the necklace I gave him. Didn’t know it was an heirloom.” He bit his lip as he squeezed Taehyung’s hand, hoping it would reach him back in the lonely place they had met at. “There’s a lot I don’t know, I think.”

 

Sighing, Jimin tilted his head back to the greyed ceiling. “Please tell me he gave you permission to ask us what the hell is going on. If not, I’m sending you back in there.”

 

Jungkook huffed a laugh. “He did say to talk to you and Yoongi. He also… he also tried to forbid me from entering a partnership.”

 

The room seemed to still at Jungkook’s words, the only sounds the soft beep of Taehyung’s monitor. 

 

“Kim Taehyung,” Jimin breathed, pinching the bridge of his nose, “I swear to god, I’m going to fucking kill you, not even with an axe but maybe something worse. Maybe suffocate you with men’s cologne.”

 

Namjoon sighed loudly, getting to his feet by the couch. 

 

“I’m getting Yoongi. Let’s have a chat, shall we?”

 

~

 

“So he told you not to enter a partnership because… why, exactly?”

 

The six of them sat in the small hospital room, Jungkook at the end of the bed Taehyung slept soundly on. Namjoon, Jin and a newly arrived Hoseok, who Jungkook had seriously missed, were lined up on the couch. Yoongi stood with his back to the wall, his arms crossed tightly, while Jimin sat at his feet, his knees curled tightly to his chest. 

 

“He doesn’t want to drag me down, in his words,” Jungkook said, gripping onto Taehyung’s foot through the blanket. “I don’t even know what he’s dragging me down into.”

 

Jimin sighed audibly, rubbing his hands at his temples. “Yoongi, you’re the bluntest one here, you explain.”

 

The Summer’s boyfriend grimaced, tilting his head back and forth before he sucked in a breath. 

 

“Taehyung is employed… forcibly, by what’s called the Syndicate, an organization that’s essentially a black market for pure seasons.”

 

Jungkook nodded. He had a feeling Taehyung was always referring to something underground, especially after their run-in with Lucas.

 

“Taehyung’s father, Sangcheol, owns this organization. There’s not a government or agency in existence that doesn’t buy from him.” 

 

Jungkook rubbed his hands on his face. “Okay, your dad as your boss, lovely,” he said, the picture becoming clearer already. 

 

Jimin put his head on his knees as Yoongi continued. “Sangcheol is a wicked man, Jungkook. He thrives on using what people love against them. As soon as he learned it was the quickest and easiest form of manipulation, he took advantage of it. He’s even done it to Taehyung.” 

 

Squeezing his boyfriend’s foot through the blanket, Jungkook felt his protectiveness surge. The thought of anyone hurting Taehyung was akin to that of a nightmare. “What’s the purpose of collecting people with pure seasons?”

 

Namjoon answered this time, his brown eyes sparkling in the dim lighting. “Power, first of all. People with a hundredth of your power can be useful in war or spy situations, not to mention the unique ways seasons can manifest. Obviously, this is a black market for a reason. Nearly every pure season is dragged in, whether through blackmail or force.”

 

“It’s human trafficking then?” Jungkook asked bluntly. He wasn’t beating around the bush for this - he needed to know what he was getting into regarding Taehyung.

 

“Essentially, yes,” Namjoon answered carefully. Jin frowned, his gaze firmly on the wall furthest from them. “Although it’s difficult to prove and even more difficult to withdraw from, since once you’re in, it’s nearly impossible to leave. The dirt they dig up is sometimes life or death, and your departure can put those you love at risk.” 

 

“There’s also payment involved,” Yoongi chimed in. “Sangcheol isn’t an idiot. He pays us all rather royally for our work, and there’s always perks involved. Many get so sucked into the lavish lifestyle that they work for him willingly, regardless of how dirty that work may be.”

 

Biting his lip, Jungkook’s heart was beating faster by the minute. Picturing Taehyung, glittery and whiny and cheerful, being forced into anything had his stomach rolling. “And what kind of work would that be?”

 

Namjoon and Yoongi exchanged glances before shifting their weights simultaneously. Jungkook found the behavior suspicious. 

 

“It varies, Jungkookie,” Jimin said, his voice more exhausted than Jungkook had ever heard it. “Some get the stupidest jobs ever, like working as a live-in heat box if they’re a Summer that increases temperature, or changing clothing colors at designer stores if they’re an Autumn. Pure seasons, though…”

 

“The purest get forced into more distasteful roles,” Namjoon said darkly. “Taehyung is the strongest Springborne in the organization, in the world maybe, only slightly more potent than his own father. That also makes him one of his biggest weapons. He’s had to commit atrocities that would make you feel ill to hear about.”

 

Jungkook felt sick enough already. “Tell me.”

 

Jin shook his head. “It’s not our place, Jungkook. We’re assuming Taehyung will wake up from this. At that point, it’s his past to share. Just know, they range from... allurement when on his own, to- to mass murder when he’s partnered.”

 

Jungkook was cold. It had been awhile since his cold surfaced, but without Taehyung’s aura, he felt a blizzard raging within him. 

 

“And none of you could do anything about it? No one’s protected him all this time?” he said with quiet sharpness.

 

No one could meet Jungkook’s flaming gaze as he glanced around the room, although Yoongi looked ready to punch the wall.

 

“We’re also employed by Sangcheol,” Jimin said quietly, pressing his legs so tightly to himself that Jungkook thought he may snap in two. “Every pure season that’s determined to have a regal bloodline gets a cohort, sort of like bodyguards, who also act as witnesses for partnerships. Yoongi and I have been assigned to Taehyung since we were children.”

 

“We’ve done everything in our power to work around him, but the older Taehyung gets, the more pressure there was for him to bond and partner with someone. Being partnered opens up a whole slew of far greater power than what’s available to an individual, which I’m sure you know. His father had handpicked Lucas for him, but you know Taehyung…” Yoongi said, a wistful smile on his face. 

 

Jimin laughed cynically below him. “Despite his father’s attempts to force it, even going as far as to make them attempt to partner without being bonded, Taehyung refused to partner with anyone he didn’t love, full stop. Sometimes his tendency to be a stubborn asshat has its usefulness.” 

 

Nausea rolled in Jungkook’s stomach, the acid climbing up his throat. “What’s- what’s a partnership even do?”

 

Jin answered this time, his eyes firmly on Namjoon. “You… essentially relinquish your consciousness to your partner, at least at first. If you partner to Taehyung, you’ll cease to exist for awhile. Taehyung absorbs all that you are, pulls the puppet strings… or the triggers.” 

 

Thinking of the times he had stared down at a blackened pit of darkness, Jungkook thought he understood what Jin was referring to. He had nearly lost himself, given everything to Taehyung. It had been scary then, though he wasn’t afraid now. Anxious, maybe, but not afraid. 

 

“How do I enter one?”

 

The group looked worriedly at one another for so long that Jungkook was afraid they may not answer him. To his shock, it was Hoseok that finally chimed in. 

 

“Since these guys are too concerned about enabling Taehyung’s martyrdom, I’ll tell you,” he said bitterly, his former chipperness nowhere to be found. Jungkook was surprised to find he also appreciated the blunt side of Hoseok. He too was sick of people beating around the bush.

 

“Honestly, it’s far easier than you think. You probably know how to open the bond already?” he asked. Jungkook nodded in response. “Good. All you have to do is give in to that pull. Obviously, it’s counterintuitive since you’re constantly resisting it. You need a cohort to witness it for both parties, helps avoid funny business.” 

 

Naturally, Jungkook found himself looking to Jin and Namjoon at the mention of a cohort, but he was thrown off to see Jin shaking his head. 

 

“Tell him Joon,” Yoongi said to the Autumn who had his gaze fixed on the floor.

 

“Ahh,” Namjoon said, scratching the back of his neck while he glanced at Jungkook, “Um… I’m actually an Autumn prince.”

 

Jungkook’s jaw dropped. How had he missed it?

 

“How… how-” 

 

“I know, I know,” the silver-haired man said, throwing his hands up in front of him defensively. “It wasn’t obvious at all. The thing is that my power is extremely limited, only usable once every few years kind of thing. So no, I don’t glow and go all crazy like you and Taehyung.”

 

He was stunned, thinking he had known all the important things about his best friends, but instead felt a little betrayed. “So- so Jin..”

 

The dark haired Summer pursed his lips together. “Yep, cohort. Actually, I entered the Syndicate willingly, so I could stay by Joon’s side as much as I could.” He looked less than thrilled about the arrangement, and Jungkook could see why. 

 

The whole thing seemed like a nightmare, a web of blackmail and dirty work, and all of his friends looked destroyed by it. 

 

“So, at the party, you all knew…”

 

Jimin nodded. “I’m sorry, Jungkookie. The strictest rule of a cohort is that we can’t directly interfere with a potential bond. Telling you anything, including why we knew each other, would have been a violation. We could’ve gotten dismissed. We had no idea you and Tae were going to meet, but when you did, it was sort of obvious.” 

 

“Winter and Spring pairs are incredibly rare, regal pairs even rarer,” Namjoon said quietly. “There are almost none on record in the last few centuries. Sangcheol has been eager to push Winterborne on Taehyung in order to access the power that is supposed to come from such a connection. I’m sure he wasn’t aware one like you existed until recently.”

 

Releasing a long exhale, Jungkook looked to Taehyung, recalling the fragmented images of him in his dream. 

 

Taehyung was so strong. He hadn’t known the details, but he had known a long time ago that Taehyung was one of the strongest people he knew. Now, he had concrete proof.

 

He said Jungkook gave too much of himself, but it was Taehyung constantly protecting him, supporting him, loving him. 

 

When did anyone do anything for Taehyung?

 

“You all understand what I’d like to do, correct?”

 

The room was silent. Jungkook figured they’d try to stop him, except maybe Hoseok, so he was surprised when Yoongi was giving him a look of determination as he turned back around.

 

“I told you that you shouldn’t trust Taehyung, Jungkook,” the Winter said, his grey eyes glimmering, “but I told you I trusted him. I couldn’t tell you at the time that you shouldn’t trust him because he was trying so badly to protect you.” Jimin reached for his boyfriend’s hand where it shook, clenched by his side. 

 

“For the longest time, we’ve been unable to truly help Taehyung help himself. He’s going to destroy us all if we let you do this, but I’ll gladly let him. It’s time someone stands in Taehyung’s corner, whether he likes it or not. You’re the only one who can force your way in. If you can get to him now, you can easily neutralize what they drugged him with, especially as a Winterborne.”

 

Hoseok nodded from the couch. “And that’s where I come in,” he said, his smirk brightening the somber atmosphere just a hair. “I’m stuck with Sangcheol thanks to some pointless shit, but I’m not part of anyone’s cohort. I’ll gladly become yours, Jungkookie. If you’ll have me, that is.”

 

For the first time since Taehyung had gotten sick, Jungkook felt his heart thud with comfort in the waking world. He had always been drawn to Hoseok, and having him at his back seemed more than appropriate, almost fated even. 

 

“I’d like that,” he said, shooting him a small smile. Hoseok beamed in return. 

 

It was strange, Jungkook thought, that he felt more comforted now than he had earlier. Being in the dark regarding Taehyung had been far scarier than the reality they were faced with. 

 

At least Jungkook now had a plan. At least he wouldn’t be completely powerless when it came to Taehyung anymore. 

 

“Let’s think about this a little more, get some food in us,” Jimin said quietly, his chin on his knees. Jungkook could tell he was still struggling with the idea of betraying his friend to save his life. He couldn’t blame him.

 

“Agreed!” Jin sounded from the couch. “Takeout time, then we let Jungkook make life altering decisions!” 

 

Jungkook’s chest felt light as he laughed, feeling like he was seeing his friends clearly for the first time. 

 

Unsurprisingly, in their clarity, their lights shined even brighter than before. 

 

~

 

Sitting beside Hoseok in the hospital cafeteria, Jungkook talked eagerly of his dance routine, feeling incredibly relieved to discuss something that wasn’t miserable for once. 

 

“I thought maybe we could push the recital out a month so we could teach the guest dance crew the setlist,” Hoseok said through a mouthful of noodles. 

 

Jungkook nodded. “I honestly think those new guys could be really helpful, they know popping really well. We could incorporate that into the second formation.”

 

Hoseok was elated. “See, this is why I keep you around Jungkookie, you brilliant little bean!” 

 

Giggling, Jungkook took another bite of his meal. It felt almost ridiculous acting so carefree before he was about to potentially ruin his life (and Taehyung’s), but he figured doing it on an empty stomach sounded like a bad idea. 

 

“Do you think if we move practice to-”

 

JUNGKOOK!

 

Fork clattering to the table, Jungkook choked on his food, a hand flying to clutch the material of his shirt at his chest. Hoseok pat his back with a worried expression.

 

“What-what the fuck was that..?”

 

His friend gave him a weird look. “What was what?”

 

JUNGKOOK! 

 

Vision dipping to black, Jungkook's consciousness faded in and out. He felt his head loll for a moment, spinning with stars, before snapping back to the present. 

 

As his vision returned, he saw Hoseok’s red eyes swimming in front of him, the Summer’s hands on his shoulders. “Jungkook, what’s wrong?” 

 

“T-taehyung,” he sputtered, unsure of what was happening as his head righted itself. All he knew was the voice could only belong to one person. “Something’s wrong with Taehyung.” 

 

Face paling, Hoseok’s eyes snapped to where Taehyung’s room was located six floors up. 

 

“Let’s go, Jungkook, we need to go to Taehyung. Now.” 

 

~

 

Jungkook’s phone was ringing as he nearly stumbled around the corner of Taehyung’s hallway, though he didn’t bother answering it. There was a commotion outside his boyfriend’s room, including the sound of Jimin arguing with men who suspiciously did not look like medical personnel.

 

“You can’t take him, under law you have no fucking right to him!”

 

Stomach dropping, Jungkook skidded into the doorway of Taehyung’s hospital room, his chest heaving. Hoseok was not far behind him, nearly slamming into Jimin on his way in. 

 

“What’s going on, I heard Tae-”

 

Jungkook froze, ice swimming through his veins. Beside Taehyung’s bed were three figures, seemingly ready to carry him away on a stretcher after having ripped away the cords keeping him alive. 

 

Taehyung clearly struggled to breathe, his chest heaving without his oxygen mask. The rough sound of his raspy inhale, fluid bubbling in his lungs, felt like a gunshot in Jungkook’s ears.  

 

Eyes blazing with a wild blue, the Winter choked on the stardust swirling within him. Taehyung was reaching out desperately through the bond, nearly clawing at him in an attempt to bring him closer. 

 

“Where do you think you’re going?” Yoongi’s cold voice rang from the doorway, his grey eyes illuminated with a stark lightness. 

 

“Sangcheol’s request,” a cloaked figure said, his voice monotone. “If you all can’t partner him, Sangcheol will do it himself.”

 

Jimin seethed behind Jungkook, so much that the Winter could almost feel heat radiating from his form. “Like hell you will. You’re not taking him.”

 

The men continued their motions. “We’ll be sure to report your resistant behavior to Sangcheol.”

 

Namjoon and Jin arrived, their faces in the same state of shock as Hoseok. 

 

They were taking Taehyung, they were taking him away, he was barely breathing-

 

JUNGKOOK!

 

Gasping for air, Jungkook sunk down into a ball, cupping his hands around his ears. Taehyung was so loud, his voice so desolate. It was as though he was inside his very mind, screaming until Jungkook could no longer think. He thought he felt Hoseok’s warm hands on his shoulders, muttering comforts he couldn’t hear.

 

“He has a partnership in the works right now,” Yoongi said, approaching the men with a merciless glint in his grey eyes. “So put him the fuck back down, or tell Sangcheol his little science experiement is off, compliments of the Min family.”

 

The three figures looked among themselves, their expressions trained into that of boredom. 

 

“You have twenty-four hours,” one said after several agonizing moments, Taehyung’s ragged breathing the only sound in the room. When they unceremoniously dumped Taehyung’s lifeless form back onto the bed, Jimin shot forward, brushing his hands through Taehyung’s hair as he worried over him. 

 

Namjoon glared at the men as they filed out. “What’s going on? Where are the damn doctors?”

 

Yoongi shook his head as he helped Jimin adjust Taehyung into a more comfortable position on the bed. “Sangcheol owns the fucking board at this point, Joon. They’ve been giving him the bare minimum.”

 

Awareness seemed to return to Jungkook at the statement, rage flooding his veins. Taehyung couldn’t even get proper medical treatment, and it was thanks to his father, of all people?!

 

“He doesn’t care about Taehyung at all, he thinks he’s just a pawn-”

 

JUNGKOOK!

 

An agonized groan ripped through Jungkook, bringing him to one knee. Pain was consuming him, ripping his chest in two. His friends were swarming him, running hands through his hair, holding onto his arm. 

 

“What’s wrong, Jungkook?” Jimin asked, his eyes wide and worried as he squatted down to eye level. 

 

“He was like this in the cafe. He knew something was wrong with Tae,” Hoseok said gravely, rubbing Jungkook’s back. 

 

His breath came in stuttered gasps. “Tae- he’s calling, he’s-”

 

Doubling over, Jungkook vomited onto the floor as his friends jumped away, the comforting hand of Hoseok still on his back. 

 

“I’m sorry,” he said, sobs wracking through him. Taehyung’s torment was evident, eclipsing nearly all of his own emotions and thoughts. “He’s hurting, it’s- it’s horrible.”

 

Jimin looked close to tears as Hoseok and Jin helped Jungkook get to his feet. 

 

“You know what this means, Jungkook.” Yoongi was staring him down with an unyielding expression, though not devoid of sympathy.

 

Of course Jungkook knew what it meant. He had known the second Taehyung had called out to him so desperately. 

 

Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, Jungkook approached the bed Taehyung laid upon, his knees wobbly. It was heartbreaking to see Taehyung struggle for air, to see the person he loved being treated so poorly for nothing more than his own season. 

 

“You’ll help me?” he asked to Hoseok and Jimin, unsure of how to even start the process, but confident he could do it anyway. Hoseok’s gaze was full of fiery determination as he took Jungkook’s hand, squeezing it for good measure. 

 

His pink-haired friend was wide-eyed, the misery evident in his expression. “Taehyung didn’t want this, he didn’t- I don’t want to betray him-” 

 

Yoongi brought his hand to Jimin’s face, his rare display of affection moving even Jungkook. “It’ll be alright, babe. Let’s keep Tae alive, okay? I’d rather him hate us than be dead.”

 

Eyelids fluttering shut for a moment, Jimin shook with emotion, but still nodded in response. Approaching the other side of the bed, he took Taehyung’s limp hand, looking down at his best friend with mix of compassion and pain. 

 

“Jungkook,” Yoongi said quietly, piercing him with his gaze, “don’t take no for an answer. Taehyung is an idiot, but he loves you. He’ll listen to you.”

 

Jungkook nodded as he brushed a dulled strand of hair away from Taehyung’s sickly face. He wasn’t afraid of the abyss at all, not with Taehyung at the other end of it. 

 

“It’ll be far more difficult because of whatever the fuck that power you have is,” Yoongi said. “Just keep your focus on Taehyung and give in to the bond, but remember what you’re there for.”

 

Taking a deep breath, Jungkook laid a hand on Taehyung’s cheek. 

 

You know I love you, right? You giant pain in the ass.

 

He tumbled forward into darkness. 

 

~

 

Jungkook wasn’t sure where he was. 

 

Truthfully, he wasn’t sure who he was either, but it didn’t seem to matter much. 

 

He strolled through an endless hall of darkness, the walls moving and yet still. There was no sound from his footsteps, though the space seemed to roar at him in a way that was all-consuming. 

 

There wasn’t an inch of space that didn’t sparkle, both bright and dulled to Jungkook’s swirling eyes. They were stars, galaxies, stretches of universe that went far beyond words that had been created for them. 

 

Jungkook had access to them all, though he wasn’t terribly interested in them. They really didn’t compare to the universe he had created on his own, one he had created with help.

 

There was a tug around him, as if something wrapped around his waist to pull him by a rope, but Jungkook saw nothing when he looked down. He wasn’t sure if he still had a body, or even what that was, if he really thought about it. But still, he followed the pull wrapped around him.

 

Occasionally, Jungkook would pause at a particular window, seeing what he thought might be time swirling by. A vision of a millennia ago, a thousand births accompanied by a million deaths, the dawn and end of time, they were all available to him. Sometimes, they spiked his interest, but the tug around him was greater. 

 

Jungkook thought he had come upon a door in his travels, feeling tugged through a blackened wall made up of swirling specs. The colors on this particular wall didn’t have names, although they were much brighter than the other areas he had passed in his travels. This was the first and only wall he had found particularly beautiful. 

 

He reached an arm through the blackness, feeling cold and hot swirl over the surface of where his skin should have been. It wasn’t a normal sensation, at least not one he had endured before, but it didn’t bother him. 

 

The heat seemed to crawl into his very veins, dancing with the cold that existed there. Instead of smothering one another, they blurred seamlessly, meshing into a prickling feeling Jungkook couldn’t name. He accepted it without question, knowing it was part of what he had come to do, although he wasn’t sure why it happened in the first place. 

 

Strolling through the wall of black, Jungkook was greeted by a blinding white, the sudden change in brightness painful to his sight. He cowered before it as it assailed his senses, blocking out anything he had ever known.

 

As his vision adjusted, Jungkook blinked, watching his own feelings emerge in the space around him. One by one, they seemed to burst into the sky like fireworks, their colors raining down upon him as if they were drops of paint. 

 

A particularly strong tug had him stumbling forward, feeling a bit empty as the fireworks show came to an end. He would have preferred to stay there, but the pull was greater. 

 

He needed to follow the pull. 

 

Walking slowly amongst the endless white, Jungkook thought of the creations he could make on such a wide canvas, how brilliant his works could be with the endless array of colors available to him. As he dreamt it, the creations seemed to come to life before his very eyes, their two dimensions sometimes existing in three instead. 

 

Jungkook was thrilled at the availability of such a creative space. There were no restrictions, no limits to what he could do. He remembered what it felt like to be excited, what it felt like to be energized. His desire to create was always at the forefront of his mind, driving anything he encountered. The prospect of such incredible opportunity was something he really needed to share, something he really needed to tell Taehyung about-

 

Jungkook saw colored wings blending into a setting sun. They were protruding from the most angelic thing he had ever seen. 

 

It was his greatest creation that he saw before him, its two dimensions flickering into three. He could taste the vanilla in the air, feel the warmth of Taehyung’s bare skin on his fingertips, see his glowing eyes with a startling detail that took his breath away.

 

Jungkook couldn’t recall Taehyung crying in his painting, so he was puzzled when he spotted colored streaks on his flawless cheeks.

 

“Jungkook-”

 

The air flew from Jungkook’s lungs as Taehyung spoke, the blinding white around them rapidly transitioning to a view of galaxies and stars. It poured into Jungkook’s very soul, tumbling from him like a fountain, ebbing and flowing like the tide. 

 

He was darkness, if he really considered it. It was unnatural to feel so suffocated by the torrent of stars, to exchange breathing with power, but he did so anyway. It was easy to do with Taehyung in front of him.

 

Taehyung truly was an angel, his colored wings existing even in Jungkook’s own shadow. Their eyes were both uniquely contrasted and perfectly blended, Jungkook’s being pools of blackness with flecks of stardust, while Taehyung’s were the light of the stars themselves. 

 

“Taehyung,” he said, feeling himself crying once again. Would he ever stop crying around Taehyung? He wasn’t sure.

 

When he reached out for the person he loved, he felt his heart shatter as Taehyung stepped away.

 

“Why are you here, Jungkook?” Taehyung said, tears glistening on his face. Jungkook wanted so badly to wipe them away, to rid Taehyung of his sadness. 

 

“I needed to reach you.” Jungkook was thankful language still hadn’t escaped him, though he was certain he and Taehyung weren’t speaking one either of them knew. 

 

Taehyung shook his head, golden glitter flying from him into the darkness. Jungkook felt new stars appear in his eyes. 

 

“You can’t be here. I told you not to partner with me,” he said, his wings fluttering agitatedly. 

 

Jungkook remembered, then. He remembered that he had come to break through to Taehyung, to reunite him with the living world, to save him.

 

“I had to, Taehyung. You’re an idiot if you think I was going to let you die.”

 

Taehyung shook, the glitter on him ricocheting into the atmosphere. “You- you can’t do this, I won’t let you, you promised-”

 

Jungkook took his shaking hands, feeling a thunderous power surge between them, though it was minor compared to what he felt in his heart for Taehyung. 

 

“I didn’t promise a thing, remember?” He thought he might be smiling, though he wasn’t sure, as his whole being felt locked to the void within him. “I couldn’t speak, silly.”

 

The angel’s face crumpled, turning to one of frantic panic. “No, I won’t let you! I won’t let you do this, you’ll get hurt and hurt others, your heart is so important to me, Jungkook!”

 

Jungkook hissed as light sizzled from where his palms met Taehyung’s, snaking up his limbs like strikes of lightning in the sky. Still, he refused to let go, even as Taehyung burned him. 

 

“Please, let go, Kookie! I don’t want things to be this way, I didn’t want this! You- you can’t force this partnership on me. I told Yoongi and Jimin this couldn’t happen! You all betrayed me, you have to leave me alone! I don’t deserve to drag you down, I don’t… we can’t-

 

“Taehyung.

 

His voice echoed in the space, the light crackling through his skin. It had fractured him, splitting his body of darkness almost completely. 

 

He was in agony, the pain inexplicable. It was as though he was being lit on fire from the inside, the burn threatening to incinerate every part of him. Jungkook thought it felt familiar to the pain he and Taehyung had once experienced when touching.

 

“Tae,” he said kindly, ignoring the pain within him. Just as he had ignored the repercussions of their contact so many times for the sake of love, this was easy to overlook as well. “Is this it? Is this what you’ve been enduring silently all this time?”

 

Taehyung seemed to freeze as he paused his panic. His eyes were wide as he observed what he had wrought, bright tears falling into the darkness below them. 

 

“What- what have I done?” His frame shook with sobs as his hands gripped to Jungkook’s for dear life. “Kookie, what do I do? No matter what I do, I hurt you, I hurt others. It- it hurts so much. I don’t know what to do anymore!”

 

Jungkook reached for him, taking Taehyung into his arms. When he ran his light-cracked fingers through his golden hair, shining dust clung to him like pollen from a flower. 

 

“Let me in, Taehyung.” 

 

The Spring’s head snapped up, gazing at him with brilliant color. 

 

“Let me in. I told you I’m not leaving you. I don’t give a damn if you hurt me, or if I get hurt on your behalf. You will let me in, or I’ll tear down the walls myself. Either open the doors or have them burned down, your choice.”

 

It was awhile before his boyfriend seemed to register the words, looking miserably torn all the while. "I- I don't want to push you away," he said, his voice breaking. "But- but I... I don't want to see the people I love hurt!"

 

Burying his face in Jungkook’s neck, Taehyung sobbed loudly, his agony palpable. Small stars exploded into a supernova in the distance, but Jungkook didn’t see them. He only saw Taehyung. 

 

“Let me in, love.”

 

Taehyung clung to him, his tears nearing endless. Jungkook was content to stand there for an eternity if that's what Taehyung needed. He wasn't sure how much time had passed before the blonde released a shuddering breath, his nails digging into the Winter's back. 

 

“I’m- I'm so afraid of losing you.”

 

You'll never lose me. I'll always be here.

 

Slowly, agonizingly slowly, Jungkook felt the cracks on his face and neck recede. 

 

“I’m afraid of losing my friends, that I ask far too much of them and give too little in return.”

 

Your friends love you, you give more than you'll ever know just by being beside them.

 

More fractures were patched, travelling in reverse to where they had begun at Jungkook’s palms. 

 

“I’m afraid of my father, of him hurting you. I’m afraid of hurting others again, all I can see are their faces as they die around me. I’m afraid of being used by others again.”

 

We won't let them use you. We'll protect you. Let us protect you.

 

Breathing deeply, Jungkook held Taehyung tightly to him, rubbing circles into his lower back below his colored wings. 

 

“I’m afraid of who I am, Jungkook. I’m afraid of this,” he said, gesturing to the span of many universes open before them. “I don’t know if I can be responsible for the power of… of existence and stardust and galaxies between us."

 

“It’s okay to be afraid,” Jungkook said, cupping his cheeks. “I was afraid of all of this too, before I remembered you were at the beginning and end of it.” Affection sparked through him like the heat of the many suns surround them. “Things are really much simpler than you think, Taehyung.”

 

Jungkook didn’t need to think as he waved his hand, the endless expanse around them fading to two simple, endless reaches of color. He stood on a side of only black, holding the face of a Taehyung that stood only in an expanse of white. 

 

“This is how I see it. Simple, black and white.” Taehyung stared at the space around them, his mouth parted in shock. 

 

“You’re worrying, overcomplicating. Take this for what it is.”

 

He gripped Taehyung’s hands tightly, feeling all the love he could muster hammer through his chest like the beat of a drum. 

 

“I love you, Taehyung. If things truly are black and white, we can use them as canvases.”

 

Jungkook thought of his love for Taehyung while he looked to the space around them, the area erupting into brilliant color. Light shined endlessly, reflecting off of the luminous glitter of Taehyung’s tanned skin.  

 

Something snapped in Jungkook’s chest as he gazed at the man he loved, feeling Taehyung finally drop his defenses, allowing an overwhelming fondness to flow between them. 

 

“I love you too, Jungkook,” Taehyung said, voice thick with tears. “I still don’t think I deserve someone like you. I don't know how the two of us even came together, but…”

 

As Taehyung bit his lip, the Winter felt overcome with endearment. “If-if you’re going to bang the door down, I might as well let you in, right?” 

 

Jungkook smiled so hard he thought light, or maybe darkness, might shoot from him. He wouldn’t be surprised if it was already. 

 

“You kicked down my door just a little while ago, remember? I almost threw you out, but you broke my walls down too,” Jungkook said through tears. 

 

After a moment where he appeared to be stunned, Taehyung laughed loudly, the baritone sound echoing through their colorful space like a symphony. He linked their palms together as light wrapped around their fingers like thread. “Do you regret it... letting me in?”

 

He shook his head, marveling at the bright stream of visible warmth that connected them. It tickled his fingertips, tying around their grasp endlessly before blinking out of existence. “Not for a second.”

 

Blackness began to close on his vision, but Jungkook wasn’t afraid, especially with his hand in Taehyung’s. 

 

“You’re stuck with me now,” the Winterborne laughed, feeling elated and in love and as if he were flying. Taehyung made him weightless, absorbing every piece of him without fail. “I’ll stand by you forever, okay?”

 

Taehyung's eyes were gold and white and every color before him, tenderness in his glimmering gaze as their partnership clicked into place. 

 

His partner sighed with a poorly formed pout, unable to hide the smile that hid below it. “If you insist, I guess I’ll let you in. Only if you bring that love thing with you… but don’t get too comfortable!”

 

Jungkook laughed, his heart the lightest it had ever been. 

 

You’re a pain in the ass, Kim Taehyung. 

 

I’ve been here the whole time. 

Chapter Text

“Five seconds, Jungkook, or I’m skipping it!” 

 

After quickly pulling his grey shirt over his head, Jungkook skidded from his navy side of the room into Taehyung’s side, rapidly tugging on a pair of shorts while he stumbled.

 

Well, truthfully, the sides of their room were pretty much shared now, as Jungkook lived in Taehyung’s side throughout the day, and Taehyung slept beside Jungkook on his side every night, but it didn’t matter much anymore. Not when there were boxes scattered about, half packed in anticipation of their departure.

 

Taehyung was already on the edge of his unmade bed after having gotten redressed, his long, tanned legs exposed by the high cut of his shorts. He seemed to vibrate with energy where he sat, unconsciously humming the opening title that Jungkook was obsessed with in broken Japanese. 

 

Hefting himself onto Taehyung’s bed, he shifted until his back was against the wall facing Taehyung’s monitors. In perfect sync, Taehyung wiggled backwards between his spread legs, fitting himself perfectly among Jungkook’s muscled thighs as he popped a chocolate covered pretzel into his mouth.

 

Jungkook leaned forward to wrap his arms around his boyfriend’s waist, using his shoulder as a headrest after giving his mess of blonde hair at the nape of his neck a quick brush with his nose. The scents of vanilla and cinnamon were strong and comforting, sending sparks cascading through him. He smirked when he felt Taehyung shiver just barely from the puffs of warm breath on his neck.

 

“Gimmie,” he mumbled. The snack bag crinkled as the blonde’s hand reached into it, lifting a pretzel over his shoulder. Jungkook munched on what he was given, still attached to Taehyung as if his life depended on it.

 

Well, his life sort of did depend on it, but maybe he was just whipped for Taehyung. 

 

“Ugh, I can’t stand this song, I don’t know why you like it,” Taehyung whined, tossing his head back so it laid on Jungkook’s free shoulder. 

 

“Uh, excuse me,” the Winter huffed, turning his face so that his nose prodded Taehyung’s cheek, “this track is a work of art, please don’t insult me it or it might be grounds for your eviction.”

 

A smile split Taehyung’s face as he sat back up, reaching for another pretzel. “Sorry that my boyfriend has no taste,” he said, his voice muffled by a mouthful of food. “Are you really going to evict me a week before we leave? A petty move for someone who doesn’t want to pack by himself.”

 

Jungkook huffed - it was true, he absolutely loathed packing, but it’s not like he’d ever get rid of Taehyung anyway. 

 

Excitement distracted Jungkook from their show as he pondered their imminent departure from the dorms. The semester was ending, and with it, their housing situation, but it seemed to be for the best. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to the space that they had grown in together, but they were also quickly outgrowing it as well.

 

When Taehyung had initially asked Jungkook if he wanted to move into his grandparents’ old house with him, despite the Spring describing it as in heavy need of some TLC, he had admittedly felt torn up at the thought. Of course, it was more than appropriate, considering they were bonded and partnered and maybe a little in love, but the sentiment still swept him away more than he had thought it would.

 

Living in a place with Taehyung that he could call his own, their own, was enough to choke him up (a lot seemed to choke him up these days - he blamed Taehyung for making him soft). 

 

It wasn’t hard letting himself fantasize about what it’d be like to have a whole home dedicated to the both of them, one that meant so much to Taehyung. Mornings, evenings and holidays by his boyfriend’s side sounded a bit too good to be true, although Taehyung himself was still an anomaly Jungkook was adjusting to. It would be easy for him to give the space proper treatment, as easy as it was to care for Taehyung himself. If the house was an extension of his partner, he would cherish it without question.

 

Taehyung’s phone buzzed incessantly on the pillow beside him, causing the Springborne to glare it at with a golden, fiery passion. “Oh my god, shut up please,” he whined, “can’t you see I’m trying to have a date here? Let me live!” He flicked the switch on its side to silent, chucking the device at his bean bag chair. 

 

Swallowing, Jungkook bit his lip as he eyed the phone’s arcing path through the air. Since their partnership and Taehyung’s subsequent recovery, the pressure had been laid increasingly thick upon them to meet with the Syndicate, but Taehyung was insistent on leaving it for a later time. 

 

The Winter would have argued about putting it off, had he not been reassured by Yoongi that it was being ‘taken care of’, at least temporarily. However, he never missed an opportunity to remind Jungkook that the time would come sooner rather than later, as if he should dread what was held in store for them.

 

Strangely enough, Jungkook wasn’t nearly as worried as he knew he should be. He wasn’t blind to the risk potential, or blind to the fact that he wanted to throttle Taehyung’s father with his bare hands, but after nearly losing the person he loved the most, very little felt worse in comparison. 

 

It was still a mystery whether or not they would enroll in the following school year again, as Jungkook was unsure of what their ‘jobs’ would entail. Either way, he was content to freelance from their shared home, though he encouraged Taehyung to continue attending if he wanted. Despite their circumstances, Jungkook wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of Taehyung’s dreams. 

 

“I can’t wait to have a full size screen in our living room,” Taehyung mused, wiggling his toes as he watched the anime in front of them. “My eyesight is going from squinting at all these subtitles.”

 

Jungkook watched his toes over the Spring’s shoulder, wondering why the hell someone was allowed to be so painfully cute and get away with it. 

 

“Good, I’m glad you’re excited. Since you’re that excited, you can buy it, too!” Jungkook said, a smile already crossing his face at the reaction he knew he’d get. 

 

Taehyung froze against him, a pretzel half in his mouth, as he whipped around to stare at his boyfriend. Jungkook never tired of the gold Taehyung’s eyes held for him, the visual proof of their love a reassurance he hadn’t known he needed, but had come to cherish all the same. 

 

“Hold on there, buddy,” Taehyung said, swallowing his pretzel with difficulty, “you said you’d get the electronics since you’re way better at that stuff and I already put in a down payment on that bedroom set and you even swore you’d probably kill me if I tried to get it myself even though I thought I could surprise you and-” 

 

Jungkook brought his mouth to Taehyung’s, laughter bubbling in his chest. He felt his boyfriend pout against him, though he parted his lips for Jungkook as easily as breathing. 

 

“I’m just kidding, baby,” he said, his voice heavy with amusement and affection. “You know I’ve planned it all out already anyway.” He tugged on Taehyung in a familiar way, prodding the Spring to turn around where he sat between his legs. 

 

Taking care to pause their show first, Taehyung swiveled around in his grasp, climbing to his knees to peer down at Jungkook. Running his ringed fingers against his jawline in the way he knew Jungkook loved, he tipped the Winter’s head back so it rested against the wall. 

 

Jungkook’s hands flew to his hips out of habit, relishing the lingering heat emanating from his skin. 

 

Taehyung placed kiss after kiss on Jungkook’s mouth, smiling as the Winter’s fingertips eventually tickled at his sides. 

 

“What are we going to do when we don’t have a wall next to the bed like this anymore?” Taehyung asked when they broke apart, mischief swimming in his heated, golden gaze. 

 

Jungkook brought a palm to his cheek, never tiring of the soft, glittery skin that existed there. “I think we’ll be fine,” he said tenderly, reaching up to tangle through Taehyung’s wavy curls. “There are no more walls, remember? We don’t need one dividing us anymore.”

 

Blinking down at him, Taehyung’s breath seemed to catch as his mouth parted. His eyes flitted over the features of Jungkook’s face before he shook his head with a snort. 

 

“You’re right, no more walls, unless we’re on the same side of one.”

 

Jungkook nodded, cherishing the comforting heat of Taehyung against him. 

 

“I’ll always be on your side of the wall, Tae. Thanks for letting me in, it’s cozy in here.”

 

Taehyung brought their foreheads together with a smile on his lips, giggling low in his throat. 

 

“Stay as long as you’d like.”